Aras Attracta worker who sat on autistic woman sentenced to four months in jail
Published 08/02/2016 | 11:59
A CLINICAL nurse manager caught on camera sitting on a severely autistic woman has been sentenced to four months prison after he was convicted of assault at Ballina District Court this morning.
Pat McLoughlin (56) Lalibela, Mayfield,Claremorris, Co Mayo had described his actions as “playful interaction” and “a bit of fun”.
However, Judge Mary Devins today found him and three colleagues guilty of assault. A fifth member of staff who had pleaded guilty to three counts of assault was also sentenced.
In directing a custodial sentence for Mr McLoughlin, Judge Devins said the aggravating factors far outweighted any mitigating factors. This included his training, his seniority and that fact that he was an exemplar who set the standard in the facility.
She said there had been a "hint of cruelty" in his actions to a particularly vulnerable woman.
Judge Devins said the fact Mr McLoughlin had sat on Miss A while other staff were present made his actions even more degrading. She also stated that some of the evidence from Mr McLoughlin had been "self-serving".
She ordered Mr McLaughlin to pay €1,000 to Miss A's personal fund to be used on things Miss A enjoys.
Judge Devins said Mr McLaughlin's actions "dehumanised this lady" ordering that the money should be used on something that gives Miss A enjoyment and humanises her again.
However, Judge Devins stressed the money should not be used on things that should be provided by the HSE.
Counsel for Mr McLoughlin, Gearoid Geraghty lodged an appeal against the sentence for his client in the court.
Judge Devins also sentenced four other staff members, three of whom had pleaded not guilty to the assault charge.
Christina Delaney (35) Seefinn, Lissatava, Hollymount, Co Mayo, was also caught on camera sitting on Miss A. She was ordered to pay €600 compensation to her victim's personal fund and will be assessed for community service. If she is an appropriate candidate Judge Devins ordered she carry out 120 hours of community service in lieu of a three month prison sentence.
Trained nurse Joan Walsh (42) Carrowilkeen, Curry, Co Sligo, was found guilty of slapping a non-verbal resident who was seeking her attention and She lifting the same resident, Miss B, and dropping her into a chair.
She was ordered to pay the resident €600 and will be assessed for 120 hours of community service in lieu of a three month prison sentence.
Health care assistant Kathleen King (56) Knockshanvally Straide, Foxford in Co Mayo who was accused of assaulting a patient with the mental age of a toddler was also directed to pay the resident, Miss C €600. She will also be assessed for 120 hours community service in lieu to a three month custodial sentence.
A fifth member of staff Joan Gill, (63), of Dublin Road, Swinford, had pleaded guilty to three counts of assaulting two residents.
Judge Devins described her dragging a resident across the floor as "humiliating and degrading". She also avoided a custodial sentence and will be assessed for 240 hours of community service in place of a four month prison sentence. She has also been ordered to pay €1,000 into the personal account of Miss A and €500 into the account of Miss B.