Aged care bash video too ‘atrocious’ to release
A NSW magistrate has condemned the assault of an "extremely vulnerable" dementia patient in a Sydney aged-care facility with footage showing the elderly woman was struck with her own rubbish.
Staff member Dana Maree Gray, 59, has pleaded guilty to assaulting the 85-year- old resident of The Poplars nursing home in North Epping in 2017.
In Burwood Local Court on Monday, magistrate Robyn Denes refused an application by Gray's lawyer for the matter to be heard under the Mental Health Act. Ms Denes said doing so would "somehow medicalise the atrocious conduct" and it was important vulnerable members of the community be protected.
Secretly recorded video of the 2017 attack, obtained by police, showed Gray aggressively pulling off the woman's white robe and slapping her repeatedly before emptying a bathroom bin, twisting a rubbish bag and hitting the 85-year-old with the contents.
According to an agreed statement of facts, as Gray put a nightgown on the woman, she used it to pull at her neck before grabbing her hair and dragging her head from left to right.
"Anyone who watched the video could not help but be moved," Ms Denes said.
"This was ongoing gratuitous violence. This is a woman who has very little dignity left but to be hit over the head with her own rubbish?
"The charge of common assault belies how serious this actually was … it was the most atrocious act."
The resident, who was using a frame to walk, can be heard whimpering and screaming in the video shot in her dimly-lit room.
The footage was so disturbing that a court official walked out in tears and the magistrate refused to release it.
Following the incident, Gray left the bed in such a high position the 85-year- old could not sit or lie down for a number of hours.
"This is a person who is a real person, is extremely vulnerable, in a place where she's supposed to be cared for," the magistrate said.
Prosecutor Ben Lee described it as "an ongoing assault with gratuitous violence in degrading circumstances"
The court heard that the victim was unable to report the incidents to police because she suffered from advanced dementia that caused her to forget about them.
Ms Denes adjourned the matter for sentence on August 15 and asked that Gray - who remains on bail - be assessed for an intensive correction order which allows for an alternative to full-time imprisonment.