Carer threatened to break fingers of victim

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A care worker who threatened to break the fingers of a Down Syndrome sufferer after bending them back has been given a suspended jail sentence.

Leeds Crown Court heard the victim of the abuse by Terence Thompson was a 20-year-old man with learning difficulties who could turn aggressive and violent.

He was challenging to look after and had assaulted other members of staff at the Kingfisher Unit at the house in Leeds Road, Liversedge, operated by Woodleigh Care.

Paul Reid, prosecuting, said that included the young man scratching, kicking, pushing and biting staff. He had broken the nose of one member of staff and knocked out the front tooth of another.

All the carers allocated to him and others were given special training in how to restrain them when such situations arose.

On one day in March last year the complainant had charged at Thompson grabbing hold of him and it was then he bent the man’s fingers back saying: “let’s see how many fingers I can break this time.” The young man was double jointed and no injury was caused.

Later, when he was resisting being taken into a room and put his legs out, Thompson was seen to kick one leg to get him through the door. He was then restrained by a number of staff on the floor so a body map check could be done for any injuries as was required in such situations.

When questioned later about the incidents Thompson admitted swearing at the 20-year-old, saying he got frustrated at him but denied assaulting him.

Georgina Coade representing Thompson said he accepted he should not have acted in such a way to a vulnerable young man but the job was very challenging, particularly for those looking after him, since he was very strong and very agile.

Thompson was considered an excellent carer who had been passionate about his work after transferring there from a factory job and would now lose that opportunity.

“The defendant’s actions are ones that he utterly regrets,” she said. “He went into this line of work because he wanted to care for people.”

Thompson, 55 of West Park Grove, Batley, admitted ill treatment and was given six months in prison suspended for two years with 200 hours’ unpaid work.

Recorder Mark Gargan said society had to have respect for those who cared for disadvantaged young adults.

“It is particularly so in the case of a young adult whose behaviour is testing due to behavioural difficulties and who can become violent and require restraint, but that restraint must be provided within the law,” he said.

He said Thompson had failed to live up to the standards required by the threats made to break his fingers and the “foul language” he used, which had not shown the victim respect and dignity.

But he said it was not a case involving gratuitous violence for his amusement or prompted by his frustration and boredom. “It is in my judgment a situation where the degree of violence occurred as a result of your inability to cope with the behaviour shown towards you from this young man that was more challenging than you could take.”