Knockbracken nurse slapped elderly patient on face five times

A staff nurse employed at Knockbracken Healthcare Park in Belfast has told a court he slapped a 72-year-old dementia sufferer five times in the face, because he was “feeling under pressure”.

Harold Robert Moore (51), of Annadale Court, Belfast, appeared at Ards Magistrates Court yesterday where he admitted slapping a “frail” elderly woman called Mary Ryan on May 26 last year.

The court heard that a member of the public who was visiting her father at the time witnessed Moore carry out the assault in the care home’s TV room.

In her statement read out to the court, Mrs Lyons said she witnessed Moore “toss” Ms Ryan into a chair before he “slapped her across the face four or five times”.

Mrs Lyons said she heard the elderly woman make noises as she was struck.

When Moore stopped slapping the 72-year-old, Mrs Lyons said he “went bright red when he realised he was being watched”.

The court was told Moore was arrested by police and charged with aggravated assault on a female following the eyewitness complaint from Mrs Lyons.

Under police interview Moore, who it was revealed has worked as a care worker at Knockbracken for over 20 years, said he slapped the elderly woman because he was feeling under pressure.

Moore, who pleaded guilty to the charge, told police: “I lifted her back in the chair and put my hand on her face, I wouldn’t call it a slap. Then I tapped her on the face lightly with my hand cupped about five times.”

When asked by police if this was an approved care method, Moore replied “no”, and admitted it was “inappropriate”.

Moore’s solicitor said his client had been suffering from depression and that the “stress of the job has eaten away at him for years”.

The solicitor said: “This lady had been making a lot of noise and an alarm went off when she got out of her chair, not in any way to excuse what he did. He wishes to apologise for his actions. It was the stress of his job.”

The court was told Moore was dismissed from his job and will never work in social care again.

Before sentencing Moore, District Judge Mark Hamill put it to him: “Some day in the future you may find yourself old, frail and vulnerable, let’s hope you are never treated like this.”

Moore was sentenced to four months imprisonment suspended for three years and fined £300.