Jury clears Leicester care home boss of neglect charge
A care home supervisor has been cleared by a jury of deliberately failing to get medical help for an 89-year-old resident with a broken leg.
Sarah Bewley (45) was found not guilty of wilfully neglecting an acute dementia sufferer who lacked the capacity to care for herself.
Ms Bewley, of Danehill, Ratby, fought back tears afterwards, saying, "Justice has been done."
She was a team leader at George Hythe House, Croft Road, Beaumont Leys, Leicester, when the alleged incident happened on November 20, 2010.
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Ms Bewley told Leicester Crown Court she was never told that the pensioner had suffered a fall or that she appeared in pain.
She told the jury: "If I'd thought she was in pain I would have rung for an ambulance."
It was alleged that Ms Bewley failed to respond to three requests from a care assistant, Gwen Martin, to assess the pensioner, who ended up waiting four hours for help.
After the not guilty verdict was announced, Judge Lynn Tayton QC said: "This case raises very worrying issues, particularly concerning systems that seemed to be in place which created a situation in which no-one took responsibility for the care of this lady.
"She was left in severe and unnecessary pain for a number of hours.
"I hope those in charge of the home have looked at the systems and the staff training."
During the trial, prosecution witness, Mrs Martin claimed she told Ms Bewley that the woman had suffered a fall after being pushed over by another resident and appeared to have a twisted foot.
Mrs Martin said: "It was obvious she was in agony the way she was screaming out."
Ms Bewley disagreed, saying: "Gwen told me she (the resident) was having difficulty weight bearing (standing up)."
Ms Bewley denied telling Mrs Martin she could not see the resident because she was "too busy" attending to paperwork in relation to another resident's death that morning.
Ms Bewley told the court: "I said I'd come and look at her as soon as I could."
She said she twice saw the resident who was sitting in a wheelchair and, although unresponsive, was showing no sign of distress.
"I just thought she was having a bad day because of her condition," she said.
At the time only a team leader had authority to summon medical help, although another care worker told the court the system for getting a doctor or ambulance has since changed.
The prosecution alleged the injury happened about 10.30am and, for the next four hours she was on duty, Ms Bewley never assessed the woman or sought medical help.
The prosecution also alleged she left work at 2.30pm, telling staff that a doctor visiting another resident later that day should be asked to "look in" on the elderly woman.
Ms Bewley said she did not mention any concerns because she was still unaware a fall had taken place.
Another resident's daughter, Catherine Wray, who is a nurse, insisted someone call an ambulance after seeing the woman distressed and screaming.
The woman was taken to hospital and had an operation on her leg fracture, but died on December 16.
The court heard Ms Bewley began her job as team leader, employed by the Leicester Quaker Housing Association, in January, 2010.
She had previously been a care assistant at a BUPA nursing home and, before that, spent 25 years employed as team leader for an electronics company.
Ms Bewley's work appraisals were read out, including one saying she had "improved the quality of care for the residents."