Carers accused of ‘dehumanising’ mentally disabled men at Harwich home, trial hears

Two carers have denied abusing mentally disabled men at a Harwich home.

Supervisor Peter Crofts, 65, and Shaunna Hughes, 25, deny four and three charges respectively against four men living at The Firs in Main Road, Harwich.

It is alleged Crofts, of Ramsey Road, Harwich, slammed down a resident’s hand causing injury, kicked another under the table to get his attention, pressed his knuckles into a third’s neck, and “vigorously” pushed a fourth around in his wheelchair “like a sack of potatoes” so hard that he was in danger of falling out.

Hughes, of King Georges Avenue, Harwich, is alleged to have smoked by an open door when a resident was ill with pneumonia, thrown a pen at another to get his attention, and shouted and sworn a third.

Prosecutor Edward McKiernan told a jury at Chelmsford Crown Court today: “We say the care significantly fell below what it should.

“You should not threaten, you should not strike, you should not bully, you should not ill-treat people in a caring environment. You don’t shout and swear repeatedly at them. You don’t appropriate their clothing and treat it as your own. You don’t take their facilities and use them as your own.”

He told the seven women and five male jurors: “We say that was going on here.”

He added people in such homes should not be “dehumanised” and should be treated with dignity.

Crofts and Hughes are both charged with ill-treatment or neglect between May 1 and September 12 last year of four people who lack capacity.

The court heard Crofts was supervising Hughes. The alarm was raised by other care workers who raised concerns with their employer about the men’s treatment.

Mr McKiernan told the court: “It was a difficult position to be in because you are a current worker but you have to do the right thing. They have done the correct thing.”

He said when arrested Crofts and Hughes said either such incidents did not happen, or if anything remotely like that did, it was not done in the way suggested.

Brenda Tidmarsh, mother of one of the men involved, told the court her son was now 37 and had lived in two homes since he was 14. He suffered from global retardation, where his whole brain was damaged. He could walk, but not talk and depended on others to do things for him.

When she was called to the hospital where he was admitted with pneumonia, she said Hughes told her he had chased her with a razor blade. Mrs Tidmarsh said she found that difficult to believe.

But she alleged Hughes said: “Yes he did, the little f*cker.”

Mrs Tidmarsh said she was with her son in his room at The Firs the next day and she saw Hughes standing by an open door smoking a cigarette.

The trial continues.



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