A 56-year-old care worker who assaulted an intellectually disabled woman by sitting on her lap has been sentenced to four months in prison by a District Court Judge.
Patrick McLoughlin, a clinical nurse manager with an address at Lalilbella, Mayfield, Claremorris, was given a custodial sentence by Judge Mary Devins at Balina District Court today (Monday).
McLoughlin, a father of three, was also ordered by Judge Devins to pay €1,000 to his victim’s personal fund to be spent on things she enjoys such as having her hair done and going on outings.
The accused had pleaded not guilty to assaulting his victim – identified in court as ‘Miss A’ at the HSE run Aras Attracta complex in Swinford, Co. Mayo, in November 2014.
Although McLoughlin had described his actions in court as 'a bit of fun', Judge Devins said there had been a hint of cruelty in his actions to a particularly vulnerable woman.
The judge remarked that McLoughlin’s actions had ‘dehumanised’ his victim and ruled that he should pay into a fund for things that his victim enjoys, not services which are normally provided by the HSE.
Judge Devins found McLoughlin and three female colleagues guilty of assault.
The suitabliity of these three, along with a fourth person who had pleaded guilty to three counts of assaults on Áras patients, for community service in lieu of prison sentences is now to be assessed.
Charges of assault against all the accused arose from filming at Bungalow 3 of the Áras complex carried out covertly by RTÉ's Investigations Unit.
A fifth member of Aras staff, Joan Gill (63), Dublin Road, Swinford, avoided a custodial sentence for what Judge Devins described as an act of cruelty and inhumanity by dragging a resident – Miss C – across the floor.
The fact that this was done in the presence of other staff was extraordinarily humiliating, the judge remarked.
Gill was ordered to pay €1,000 into the personal account of Miss A and €500 into the personal account of Miss B, her two victims.
She is to assessed for her suitability to carry out 240 hours community service in lieu of a four month prison sentence.
Other defendants, who had pleaded not guilty to assault, dealt with today were Christina Delaney (35), Seefin. Lissatava, Hollymount, Joan Walsh (42), Carrowilkeen, Curry, Co. Sligo, and Kathleen King (56). Knockshanvally, Straide, Foxford, Co. Mayo.
Delaney, who was also shown on camera sitting on Miss A, was ordered to pay €600 compensation towards her victim’s personal fund and she will be asessed for community service.
If found suitable she carry out 120 hours of community service in lieu of a three month prison sentence.
Walsh, a staff nurse, was found guilty of slapping a non-verbal resident who was seeking her attention and lifting her before dropping her into a chair.
She was ordered to pay €600 to her victim’s personal fund and will be assessed for 120 hours community service in lieu of a three month prison sentence.
King, a health care assistant, was directed to pay Miss C €600. She will be assessed for 120 hours community service in lieu of a three-month prison sentence.
Gearoid Geraghty, counsel for Patrick McLoughlin, lodged an appeal in court against the prison sentence imposed on his client.