Carer cleared of abuse charge

A CARER accused of kicking a 19-year-old with a mental age of two was found not guilty on Monday.

Magistrates said there was no evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Emma Ashcombe, 27, of Briarwood Court, Winsford, kicked Simon Jennings, who has autism, severe learning difficulties and cannot speak.

Fellow carer Katie Hodson had claimed that Miss Ashcombe pushed Mr Jennings away with her feet several times after he tried to touch his nose against hers.

“She asked him to go away and leave her alone,” said Miss Hodson.

But during Monday’s trial at Macclesfield, Will Hurley, defending, dismissed Miss Hodson’s account of the alleged ill-treatment at the David Lewis Centre, near Mobberley, in May last year as very vague, except for the alleged kicks.

“You’d notice the horrible thing,” Miss Hodson told magistrates.

“It happened and I was there and I saw it happen.”

The court was told that the incident was reported to a superior, Joanne Johnson, two weeks later.

Miss Hodson claimed she had not told Miss Johnson, but could not explain why she had failed to do so because all such incidents should have been logged.

Mr Hurley said he believed there was no case for his client to answer, but the magistrates disagreed.

Miss Ashcombe said nothing had happened and said she did not know what allegations had been made until she spoke to Wilmslow police three months later.

That was more than a month after she had been suspended from her job.

Miss Ashcombe told the court she had previously been attacked by a resident – suffering scratches all over her body and a cracked wisdom tooth. “I didn’t react at all,” she said. “It’s what I’m there for and it’s part of my job.”

Michael MacKnight, prosecuting, said the incident had occurred as Miss Hodson described it.

He suggested she had no reason to lie and might have been reluctant to report the incident to protect her colleague.

Alex Thornton, another carer who was in the room at the time of the alleged incident, did not appear at court because he was believed to be in Canada. Mr MacKnight said Cheshire Police had contacted Canadian Mounties in an effort to track him down. “As far as they are concerned he is unobtainable,” he said.

Mr Thornton’s statement – that Miss Ashcombe kicked Mr Jennings a single time – was admitted as hearsay evidence.

But, in summing up, Mr Hurley said magistrates should not convict.

“There is only one person who provides an account that would amount to anything like ill-treatment: Katie Hodson,” he said.

“That person gives a very vague and I would submit unbelievable account.”