Published by BBC NEWS - 20th January 2022

Laura Paul and Sean Watkins

Image source, Gloucestershire Police

Three care home workers have been jailed for 18 months for mistreating a vulnerable man.

Daniel Gower, 23, Laura Paul, 29 and Sean Watkins, 23, stuck limpets to his back, barricaded him in his room and made him wear a bucket on his head.

They were looking after the victim, who is deaf and has learning difficulties, on holiday in Devon.

Sentencing them at Gloucester Crown Court, Judge Ian Lawrie said their behaviour was “an affront to humanity”.

The court was told the offences took place while the 54-year-old victim, who was being cared for at Brook Lodge in Longhope, Gloucestershire, was on an annual holiday in Bideford, Devon in September 2018.

Prosecutor Giles Nelson said the victim suffered from epilepsy and anxiety and required 24-hour care.

Gower, Paul and Watkins were assigned to look after him on the holiday, but Mr Nelson said when the group returned to Brook Lodge, another staff member noticed a change in his personality.

“She described him as being upset and very angry,” said Mr Nelson.

“She raised her concerns with Gower and he stated that three care workers had got drunk and had been mean to him.”

Distressing videos

A video was shown to the court of the victim screaming because of the limpets on his the back and being humiliated during an incontinence episode.

He also had pegs attached to his top and sea creatures were used to scare him.

Jayne Case, the man’s social worker for the past 10 years, told the court he was generally a happy person but was now displaying signs of sadness and anxiety.

She said she had viewed the videos herself and found it very distressing, and the humiliation he had suffered moved her to tears.

The court was told that both men, who were sacked in November 2018, admitted to the care home’s management that they had been drinking alcohol and had put the clothes pegs on the victim’s back as a joke.

Paul declined to attend any meetings with management and resigned in November 2018. She told police during an interview that they were “only having a laugh”.

Gower, of Wellington Parade, Gloucester, together with Paul, of Meadow Walk, Solomons Tump, Huntley, Gloucestershire, and Watkins, of Ridgewalk, Ruardean Hill, admitted ill-treating the man between 27 September and 2 October 2018.

‘Degrading and humiliating’

Lloyd Jenkins, representing Gower, said his client had admitted his role and had matured since the events on holiday.

“He has struggled to get his life back on track, having lost his job. He suffers from anxiety and has lost his self-esteem,” said Mr Jenkins.

Sarah Jenkins, for Watkins, said her client was only 19 at the time and was not “effectively equipped” for his role.

Charley Pattison, representing Paul, said she had been cleared of any wrongdoing following an internal investigation at the care home.

Ms Pattison said what had happened was something Paul “deeply regrets” and she had written to the victim to apologise.

Judge Lawrie told the defendants they had subjected a vulnerable man to “degrading and humiliating” behaviour.

“[He] was not a stranger to you as you had worked with him and would have been alert to his vulnerability,” he added.

“You don’t need training to be told or alerted when conduct is an affront to humanity and compassion in the execution of your duties.”

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