Care worker struck off for cruel joke on vulnerable youngster
A child care worker has been struck off after he played a cruel practical joke on a vulnerable youngster.
Martin Ross Phillips told the boy he was moving home, got him to pack up his belongings, and drove him away in a car.
But the “joke” was judged by social work watchdogs as a “serious abuse of trust” that exposed the boy to “emotional harm”.
The 53-year-old also admitted making an “inappropriate comment” to a 14-year-old girl about his wife’s bikini line.
Mr Phillips worked at Craigellachie children’s home, Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire, and Blairvadach Unit in Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute, at the time of the incidents.
The care worker had previously escaped a ban after he turned up drunk and wrestled staff and youngsters at Craigellachie.
But after admitting four further misconduct charges brought by the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC), he agreed to be banned from the profession.
His “practical joke” was played on the child, named only as “AA”, in January 2009.
Mr Phillips had the child “pack his personal effects” and then drove him “away from the unit,” the SSSC charges said.
But the charges noted: “In fact he was not leaving the unit.”
The SSSC panel said Mr Phillips’ “practical joke” was a “serious abuse of trust and an abuse of his position as a social service worker.”
He admitted another charge which said he told a 14-year-old girl he shaved “his wife’s bikini line” in October 2012.
The girl “was a vulnerable service user who was experiencing problems with sexualised behaviour at the time the comment was made,” the SSSC said.
Mr Phillips also admitted trying to source a place in a residential school for a third child, a decision which was “outwith his remit as a Residential Child Care Worker”.
He further admitted offering to meet an “extremely vulnerable” boy who was “displaying problematic sexualised behaviour” outside of work in May 2013.
The SSSC panel noted Mr Phillips had “not apologised or had regret for his actions in any meaningful way” and have shown a “pattern of poor practice.”
The panel noted that he had “failed to learn and reflect from his past experiences.”
In 2012 Mr Phillips escaped a ban from the SSSC after he turned up drunk and wrestled with staff and youngsters at the Clydebank home.
He punched and slapped a child, put another child in a headlock, and sat on another staff member, but was only given a warning by the SSSC which would have expired after four years.
He also kept his job at the council, which gave him a final written warning.
Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont said: “This is the kind of oversight that cannot be repeated.
“The warning signs were there, they were blatant, and should have been heeded far sooner.
“The role this individual worked in requires the utmost trustworthiness, and that clearly was lacking in huge amounts.”
A spokeswoman for West Dunbartonshire Council said they never comment on individuals currently or previously employed by the council.