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Care worker screamed 'zombie attack' and said he'd behead nursing staff

A CRAZED nursing home worker "imprisoned" and threatened to behead two care workers when he became convinced that the premises had been besieged by zombies.

Matthew Keating (20), the manager's son, went berserk and threatened to kill the terrified women after developing a paranoid delusion.

He demanded to know if they had been "bitten" by the zombies before telling them he was going to cut their heads off.

A court heard he became delusional as he travelled home on a Nitelink bus after downing a spiked drink on a night out.

He ran to the nursing home up the N11 after calling his mother to say "all Dublin's burning, everyone is a zombie". When his colleagues let him in, he became violent and irrational.

He assaulted the carer, who went on to save him from jumping out a window that he had smashed with his fists. The other woman, a nurse, raised the alarm and Keating was arrested.

Neither woman was able to escape during the 45-minute ordeal because they were concerned for the safety of 22 sleeping elderly residents in their care.



Pay

Judge Cormac Dunne slammed the owners of the nursing home after hearing the two victims were forced to produce doctor's certificates to get time off work to recover from their ordeal. They also had their pay stopped for the week they took off after the incident.

Judge Dunne said the owners should be ashamed of themselves.

Keating was ordered to carry out 200 hours' community service to avoid a six-month jail sentence.

The accused, of Earlsfort, Southern Cross Road, Bray, pleaded guilty to assaulting Emilia Maja-bague and threatening to kill her and head nurse Karen Relevante.

The incident happened at Northbrook Nursing Home, Ranelagh, on July 3, 2011. Keating, who is now a hairdresser, was working there as a cleaner at the time. Ms Majabague told the court the bell rang at 1.15am and the accused asked her if he could come in because he was waiting for a lift.

When she let him in, he grabbed the keys from her hand, took off his shirt and started kicking the chairs and doors. She tried to calm him down but he said: "Shut up or I will kill you." He tried to jump out of a first-floor window and she pulled him back in. He asked why she had done that, grabbed her hand and smashed the window with his hands.

He then tried to get her and Ms Relevante to jump out of the window. He followed Ms Majabague down to the dining room and turned off the light, saying, "I want to show you something".

When she asked him to turn the light on, he told her, "your husband is dead" and grabbed her hard. He asked them, "Have you been bitten?", adding, "If you have been bitten, I'll cut your head off".

Ms Relevante said the accused had told her: "Keep quiet, you bitches or I'll kill you". She phoned the matron, Esther Keating, and the gardai. When Ms Majabague asked her about the call, Keating said: "Esther is dead, Esther is dead."

When she told him "nobody has been bitten here", he picked up a chair and walked back to get enough distance to throw it at her.

The gardai then arrived and Keating was arrested under the Mental Health Act. Ms Relevante cried in the witness box as she told how she still suffered sleepless nights from the trauma.

Defence solicitor Aine Flynn said the accused had offered to pay for the victims' sick leave but they had declined. The court heard the accused believed a spiked drink led to his "bizarre, unpredictable and entirely out of character" behaviour. He had gone for a urinalysis test five days later but there was nothing in his system at that stage.

On the night, he got off the bus and ran up the N11, was followed by his friends, but they lost him.

"Part of his delusion was he believed the place was besieged by zombies," Ms Flynn said. "His motivation was that he felt he should go there to offer protection. His behaviour thereafter caused no end of alarm."



Greed

Judge Dunne said: "Alarm is a very light word. I would call it terror," adding the victims, "were imprisoned, basically".

He said the owners, First Care, appeared to be "people of no conscience whatsoever".

"They should be ashamed of themselves," he said. "A nursing home is a place where you expect kindness and goodness, it appears that these owners don't have those character ingredients.

"I can't find words to express my outrage at their greed."

He said the victims should be paid "significant damages" for their "harrowing ordeal".

The accused's mother Esther was an employee and not one of the owners. She said in evidence he called her on the night and said: "Mum, I'm burning up. All Dublin's on fire, everybody is a zombie. Mum, I'm coming, I'm coming."

Since the incident, he had been "filled with shame and completely embarrassed". Judge Dunne said the women had suffered a "harrowing siege of violence".

aphelan@herald.ie


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