Wednesday 23 August 2017

One of six Áras Attracta care workers pleads guilty to assault

Stock Picture
Stock Picture

Tom Shiel

One of six HSE employees who featured in undercover video footage shot for RTÉ's 'Prime Time' is pleading guilty to three charges of assault on elderly residents at the Áras Attracta care home.

The full facts of the assaults committed by Joan Gill (62), Dublin Road, Swinford, Co Mayo, will be outlined to Judge Mary Devins at a sitting of the District Court in the New Year.

Ms Gill will then be sentenced.

Five other care staff at the HSE-run facility in Swinford - Pat McLoughlin, Lalibella, Mayfield, Claremorris; Anna Ywunong Bostimbo, Lowpark Avenue, Charlestown; Kathleen King, Knockshanbally, Straide, Foxford, Co. Mayo; Christine Delaney, Lissatava, Hollymount, Co Mayo; and Joan Walsh, Carrowilkeen, Curry, Co Sligo - are all pleading not guilty to a single charge of assault.

They will be tried at a special district court sitting, in the Castlebar court complex, on January 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 next.

Extensive video evidence will be shown at the trials of the five accused who are pleading not guilty.

Some 190 hours of video footage was filmed covertly last November in Bungalow 3 of the Áras Attracta complex in Swinford, Co Mayo.

Shocking scenes captured on the video were shown weeks later on RTÉ's 'Prime Time'.

Last month, Judge Devins, at a special hearing, ruled that the footage shot by an undercover reporter at Bungalow 3 of the Áras complex will be admissible in the cases.

Evidence

Yesterday at Swinford District Court, sitting in Ballina, Brendan McDonagh, counsel for Joan Gill, indicated to Judge Devins that she would be pleading guilty to three of the assault charges on a full facts basis.

Mr McDonagh said an agreement had been reached with the State on two further assault charges which Ms Gill was facing.

The court was told that two of the five who are pleading not guilty will be seeking further disclosure of state evidence before their trials are held.

Ms Gill's case will come up for mention before Judge Devins on January 7. She will be sentenced at a later date.

One of the reasons why Castlebar courthouse has been selected for the trials is that it is equipped with modern facilities for viewing CCTV footage.

The State is mostly relying on this filmed material in its cases against the five defendants.

Last month, Judge Devins took extensive submissions from the State and the defence teams on the admissibility issue. She later ruled that the video footage was admissible.

She said the encroachment of the individual rights of the accused by the hidden camera was not unreasonable in the circumstances. Neither was the encroachment on the privacy of the residents, in what was their home, unreasonable.

Judge Devins said: "The disability of the residents were such that they were completely dependent on their carers... They had no voice except through their carers".

She noted that it had been indicated to her that the video evidence obtained by RTÉ was the "foundation" of the prosecution case.

"It (video evidence) will be subject to commensurate, rigorous, forensic examination no doubt by the defence and certainly by the judge in the course of the trial", she added.

Irish Independent

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