Carer jailed for trampoline attack in County Durham

A former soldier who attacked a severely disabled man as they exercised on a trampoline at a County Durham care home has been jailed for eight months.

Carer Wayne Parker, 37, shoved Gareth Gunner, 22, into safety netting before striking him with karate-style blows at the Newbus Grange home in Neesham.

Teesside Crown Court heard a neighbour filmed the attack after hearing Mr Gunner’s screams in August last year.

Parker was jailed after pleading guilty to assaulting a person in his care.

Prosecutor Jenny Haigh said neighbour Stephen Gray grabbed his camera after watching Parker, of Harcourt Street, Darlington, taunting and laughing at his victim, who has a vocabulary of just a few words.

‘Fear and distress’

He then recorded Parker pushing Mr Gunner with great force into the safety netting surrounding the trampoline and punching him in the face.

Another witness, Clare Mathieson, described hearing Parker’s “cruel, nasty” laughter and Mr Gunner wailing unhappily as he was attacked.

Judge Tony Briggs, who watched the recording of the attack, said: “It is perfectly plain that Mr Gunner was clearly distressed and frightened, and in relation to that it is not a surprise that those who lived nearby and were used to the sounds patients made clearly stated that they were sounds of fear and distress.

“Unhappily, looking at the whole matter, prison is inescapable. The vulnerable have to be protected.”

The court heard Parker had worked at the care home since leaving the army seven years ago.

A spokeswoman for Castlebeck, the firm which owns the care home, said: “The support worker was suspended straight away from work and from all contact with patients as soon as the allegations were made last year.

“The allegations were immediately passed on to all the appropriate authorities for investigation and subsequent action.

“We can never accept inappropriate or abusive behaviour towards those who live in our service and we support the judge’s actions today.”