Former care worker cleared of locking teen in cupboard

A FORMER social care worker has been cleared of swearing at a teenager and locking him in a cupboard.

However Samantha Pascoe received a three-month admonishment on her record after admitting using threatening words while employed at Neath’s Hillside Secure Unit.

A three-day Care Council for Wales hearing, held in the Village Hotel, Swansea, put three charges to Mrs Pascoe, namely that she shouted at young person A in a threatening and aggressive manner, used inappropriate language and locked him in a cupboard.

Mrs Pascoe denied all but one charge, for which she was given the admonishment.

Chairman of the committee, Hugh Knight, said: “The committee finds that the registrant behaved inappropriately towards young person A in that she said, in a threatening manner, ‘If I see you do that again I will break your legs’.”

The hearing had heard that Mrs Pascoe, who is no longer employed by Neath Port Talbot Council, had reacted to the teenager, referred to as A, after he threatened another service user.

Her barrister, Mark Whitcombe, said: “In the heat of the moment there was a need for prompt decisive action. She didn’t quite get the response right.

“For what you found to be misconduct she apologises wholeheartedly indeed.

“She wants to offer a public apology, she recognises that she acted inappropriately on that occasion and deeply regrets her actions and wants to apologise in this formal setting, just as she apologised to the young person on the day.”

The hearing also heard in mitigation that Mrs Pascoe, who otherwise has an unblemished record, was under “extreme stress” at the time, around February last year.

She said she was facing “an extremely difficult period” when it was feared her mum may have cancer and her daughter was “experiencing difficulties in school” which brought on a severe stomach complaint and weeping eczema.

She also described the unit’s “often volatile” environment.

The hearing had previously heard that A, was “very difficult to manage” and the most challenging individual in the care system.

Chairman of the board, Hugh Knight, said: “This was an isolated incident which required intervention to protect another service user from harm.

“She quickly recognised that her behaviour was inappropriate and apologised.”

As for the charges relating to the use of bad language towards A, the committee agreed that Mrs Pascoe had merely muttered them to herself.

And the alleged incident of locking the teenager in a cupboard was also found groundless.

Mr Knight said: “There were no eye witnesses to the alleged incident.

“There is no specified date. The main evidence is of Ryan Phillips (fellow employee), his evidence is a recollection of a conversation which took place on an unspecified day and an unspecified time.”

Mrs Pascoe, who wiped away a tear as she was cleared of the remaining charges, said she wanted to return to work in social care.

Mrs Pascoe said: “It has been over 18 months since the incident and I have learnt a great deal about myself. I will never act this way in the future, it has changed my entire life, not only have I lost a fantastic job, I also almost lost my family.

“I’m a great believer in second chances and feel I have learnt a lot from my mistake. I would love to work with children in the future.”