Accused care worker ‘contemplated suicide’

A CARE worker told a court he contemplated suicide after being accused of committing a sex act on a severely autistic man.

David Ridley said he was in deep shock and could not think straight when he was quizzed by the police about the allegation.

In heated exchanges with prosecutor Amanda Rippon at Teesside Crown Court, Mr Ridley denied he had ever inappropriately touched the complainant and said he had an unblemished record in caring for people who were regarded as being particularly vulnerable.

However, he accepted he had made mistakes in caring for the alleged victim and admitted he had the opportunity to carry out the attack alleged by the prosecution.

The Crown claims the 55- year-old, of Strait Lane, Hurworth, near Darlington, who denies a charge of engaging in sexual activity with a person with a mental disorder, effectively groomed the complainant and engineered scenarios when they could be alone together.

Describing the effect the allegation had on him, Mr Ridley, who yesterday gave evidence in his own defence, said: “It has been horrendous. I have contemplated taking my life quite a number of times and my partner has had a nervous breakdown.

“Anybody that knows me knows I would not do such a thing.”

He said he had been “put through hell” and was now on anti-depressants.

Mr Ridley, a former coal board and forestry worker, moved into social care in 2000 and began looking after the alleged victim in January last year.

He was later suspended when the complainant “spontaneously”

began detailing the abuse he had allegedly suffered, describing Mr Ridley as a “nasty man” and stating he did not like the new member of staff.

The court heard how at least two people were meant to supervise the complainant, while the defendant was not allowed to administer drugs to him alone.

But Mr Ridley conceded he had broken these rules and had sat alone with the alleged victim on his bed after taking his medication to him.

Ms Rippon described a number of incidents which raised suspicions, including on one occasion when the complainant was in the bath.

Mr Ridley’s co-worker had to leave to make a phone call and when she returned he was seen with his hand in the bath.

He said he was testing the water.

Another time he was said to have gone into a cubicle while the alleged victim was using the toilet on a trip to a public park.

Mr Ridley, who had character witnesses appear on his behalf, including a teacher and a GP, said he was merely trying to do a good job and have the complainant accept him because he was new.

He said: “I admit I have made mistakes, but I am not a criminal.”

Ms Rippon replied: “That is for the jury to decide.”

The trial continues.