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Abusive carer drew whiskers on disabled woman’s face and offered her dog biscuits

An abusive carer drew whiskers on a disabled woman and offered her dog biscuits, a court heard.

Debra Ralph, 54, of Bolton, was supposed to be looking after the woman when she carried out the “wilful abuse”.

She also “recklessly” drove with the woman, who had a mental age of four, on her knee, the Manchester Evening News reports.

Ralph was arrested three days after she mistreated the woman at the brain injury facility Agricola House, in Bury, Greater Manchester.

The two incidents happened on July 10 last year during one shift.

Ralph was struck off and arrested within days after what the judge, Tina Landale, described as “wilful abuse”.

“It’s hard to think of a more vulnerable victim than a person in her position,” the judge said.

On the day in question Ralph first had the woman on her knee in a car which she drove backwards and forwards in the car park before drawing whiskers on her cheeks and making the tip of her nose black with a pen and offering her dog biscuits to the shock of her colleagues.

Prosecuting, Sophie Kenny, told the court that colleagues immediately told her this kind of behaviour constituted abuse.

Three days later she was arrested by police for the ill treatment of the woman as a care worker and pleaded guilty to the offence in court.

Ms Kenny said Ralph was in a “position of responsibility” for this particularly vulnerable person.

The woman, who was said to have a mental age of four, required one-to-one care and by doing this she “breached her position of trust as a carer in a caring role”.

Other members of staff raised “immediate concern” over this behaviour, according to Ms Kenny, as it was “unmistakably inappropriate in nature”.

Defending Ralph, Rachel Shenton, told the court her behaviour was not “malicious” and she “didn’t want to harm anyone.

She conceded that it was “inappropriate and reckless behaviour on her part” but she had a “desire to entertain” the resident.

Ms Shenton said this was out of character for Ralph, who had been working as a carer for four years.

“It was misguided and inappropriate. She was trying to entertain her and wasn’t trying to conceal what she did,” Ms Shenton added.

She also said Ralph thought drawing on her face was equivalent to putting face paint on a child but Ralph accepts she didn’t do this and the resident was not distressed at any point.

“She (Ralph) is deeply and truly sorry,” she added.

Ms Shenton told the court that Ralph suffers “significant mental health problems” and has never troubled the police and courts before.

Sentencing Ralph to a 12 week suspended prison sentence, Judge Landale, said: “On July 10 of last year you failed to care appropriately for her.

“She was a lady who required around the clock care and who was lacking capacity. It’s hard to think of a more vulnerable victim than a person in her position.

“You wilfully abused her. You have been rightly dismissed from employment.

“After the first incident in the car park when your colleagues immediately intervened and brought to your attention that it was wrong to be treating her in that way, you went on to ill treat her again in a short space of time.

“These were actions which amounted to ill treatment.

“It’s serious because as you know it involves a breach of trust between the patient and the carer and between the families of those loved ones who expect and require good care to provide proper treatment.

“I take into account that this was out of character and you didn’t intent to cause harm.

“But this was reckless behaviour for which you have apologised and lost your job.”

Ralph, of Ellesmere Road, Bolton, was handed a 12-week sentence suspended for 18 months at Minshull Street Crown Court.

She was also ordered to do 180 hours unpaid work with 20 days of rehabilitation.