A psychiatric nursing assistant has been jailed for fondling a patient in her bed at a mental hospital after he developed an infatuation with her.
Carl Tinker, 49, of Trinity Street, Huddersfield, became obsessed with the attractive 30-year-old while he was treating her and started a physical relationship by kissing her during an escorted shopping trip.
He went on to touch her breasts under her pyjamas as she lay in bed and to grope her over clothing on another visit to her room.
Tinker was more than ten years older than the patient but carried on seeing her after she was discharged and kissed and fondled her again after visiting her home.
The attack happened at Newton Abbot Hospital in Devon.
He never had sex with the woman but did suggest during a trip in his car to a beauty spot overlooking the Devon coast near Teignmouth.
Tinker was found guilty of abusing his position as a nurse after a jury rejected his claim that he had been very fond of the woman but not crossed the line by touching her.
He was jailed after a judge told him he allowed his obsession with the woman to overwhelm his professional responsibilities.
Nursing assistant Tinker denied three counts of sexual activity with a person with a mental disorder by a carer.
He was found guilty and jailed for two years and three months by Judge Phillip Wassall.
The judge told him: ”You were a care worker and this woman was temporarily suffering from a serious mental disorder. The fact is you simply fell for her.
“You became infatuated with her and allowed your feelings for her to completely overcome your common sense and professional good judgment.
“This was not deliberate cold blooded grooming. It was a fascination which led you to draw her into a relationship.
“The reason the law exists is to protect people when they are very vulnerable from people who care for them.
“Anyone who was in a position of caring for those with mental disorders must expect immediate custody.”
Mr Richard Crabb, prosecuting, said the three offences were committed while the patient was being treated at Newton Abbot. There was greater sexual contact after she was discharged but this was not illegal as she was no longer in his care.
Mr Nigel Wraith, defending, said these revelations had ended an otherwise blameless 23 year career as a nursing assistant but he now helps look after his father in Huddersfield.
He said Tinker now plans to set up his own business making rustic furniture. He has had to live with this case hanging over him for years.
During a trial in September the woman told the jury she spent two short stays in hospital in the summer of 2007 and Tinker was kind and friendly to her.
She said she did not report the incidents at the time because she had consented to all the activity and only realised it was illegal when she started a university course in social care.
Tinker said he found the woman attractive but went no further than holding her hand.