Care home boss accused of assault misses court again

A care home owner accused of assaulting a teenage girl in his care in a Somerset street and later head-butting her has failed to turn up in court for the third time.

A solicitor acting for Stephen Hyland, of Aller Road, Langport, said that a doctor’s appointment had caused further delays for a court case that has taken more than a year to conclude.

Hyland is the managing director of Somerton-based Synergy Child Services (SCS).

SCS provides care on behalf of local councils for young people who have challenging behaviour.

Originally scheduled to last three days, 19 days have now been spent on the case in court.
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Hyland, aged 52, first appeared in court in April 2008, charged with assaulting the girl.

The trial came to an abrupt halt in September when Hyland, suffered a suspected heart attack and was taken by ambulance from Frome Magistrates’ Court.

He failed to appear when his case came up again in Wells shortly before Christmas, and was once again absent when it resumed at Wells Town Hall in February.

District Judge Bruce Morgan was expecting to hear closing submissions from the prosecution and the defence at Wells Town Hall but was told that Hyland had a medical appointment that day.

Judge Morgan questioned why the appointment had been arranged on the day of the court case and was told it was the earliest available opportunity for Mr Hyland to see a specialist.

Judge Morgan said that so far he had seen no evidence that there was any medical condition affecting Hyland, and that as the medical appointment was at 2pm, there was no reason why Hyland could not attend the court.

Hyland’s solicitor, Paul Cooke also asked for the case to be delayed as the prosecution submission had arrived only the previous day.

Judge Morgan decided that the submissions could go ahead without Hyland being present and that Hyland had been given an opportunity to see the prosecution case.

Elise Jeremiah, for the prosecution, told the judge that Hyland had been accused of assaulting by beating a 17-year-old girl, who has severe Asperger’s Syndrome, in his company’s care.

The incident allegedly took place in New Street, Somerton, on December 12, 2006, when Hyland and two members of staff were returning from the Somerton Hotel with the girl.

Following a discussion about whether the girl could be given her mobile phone, she was taken to the floor by Mr Hyland in front of witnesses, who say he pulled her hair to bring her down.

The crown case is that Hyland had been drinking and that the girl had done nothing to indicate that restraint was needed.

Three members of staff have given evidence against Hyland, who denies being drunk and assaulting the girl.

He says a restraint procedure had to be used on her when she became violent and bit his finger.

It is alleged that later, when the girl had been in her bedroom at the care home, there was a further incident in which Hyland head-butted her in front of a witness and fell on top of her.

Hyland denies this and says he was employing accepted restraint procedures.

He says he had more experience with the girl than his staff and could see more quickly when she was about to get aggressive.

Several SCS employees have given evidence on Hyland’s behalf.

The case returns to Wells Town Hall on June 26.