THREE women accused of neglecting an 87-year-old woman who suffered third degree burns after she was placed on a commode of hot water were today cleared of all charges.
Registered nurse Andrea Garrick, 38, and care assistants Jodie Atkinson and Danielle Schofield, both 22, were on trial at Leeds Crown Court for wilful neglect of Alzheimer’s sufferer Violet Smith.
But Judge Geoffrey Marson QC today ruled there was no case to answer and discharged the three defendants from the neglect charges.
Mrs Smith, who had been a patient at the Charlton Centre for Alzheimer’s and Dementia, on Carlinghow Hill, in Batley, since 2000, was taken to hospital with severe burns to 4% of her body in January 2008.
A day earlier, Garrick, of Bevor Crescent, Heckmondwike, West Yorkshire; Atkinson, of Doubting Road, Dewsbury, and Schofield, of Thornton Road, Dewsbury, had placed her on the commode in an attempt to treat constipation and haemorrhoids.
Atkinson told the court during the trial she would never have placed Mrs Smith on the commode if she thought it was unsafe, and said she had asked Garrick about the safety of the procedure.
She said: "I asked her if it was safe for her to be placed on the commode with water in it. She said it was safe because she had done the practice before."
But Mrs Smith’s son Rodney said he would be "haunted" forever by the pain she suffered.
He said: "What my mother had to go through was horrific - made all the worse by the fact that no-one could explain to her why she was in such pain.
"Her Alzheimer’s meant she had no idea what had happened to her and of course meant she could not tell us. She screamed the place down in agony every time her dressing was changed in hospital or she had to be moved. It was so very distressing for both of us and it’s a five-week experience that will haunt me forever."
Rachelle Mahapatra of Irwin Mitchell solicitors said the family were pursuing a civil claim against the nursing home.
She said: "Violet’s family will now be forced to turn to the civil courts to seek justice for Violet. This claim will never compensate for what happened to Violet but may bring the family a certain level of closure for the horrific injuries she suffered during her stay at the home."