A CARE worker who assaulted an extremely vulnerable teenager and poured water over his head has avoided going to prison.
Christopher Davey, 42, was supposed to be looking after the 19-year-old, who has severe learning difficulties, when he was working as a care worker at Northam Lodge on September 30 last year.
Davey, of Honestone Street, Bideford, appeared at North Devon Magistrates’ Court on Friday after being found guilty at trial of assault by beating and common assault.
Simon Jarvis, for the prosecution, described the 19-year-old wheelchair-bound victim as an extremely vulnerable young man who relied on the help of carers.
Mr Jarvis said on the day of the offences, Davey went into a room with colleague Ryan Powell to help change the young man.
Powell saw Davey holding a cup of water over the victim and said “should I tip it over his head?”.
The water spilled onto the victim’s head, which Davey denied he did on purpose.
Mr Jarvis also said Davey pinched the victim after he lashed out in response.
He said: “Mr Powell told the manager straight away what had happened.
“He said he saw the victim lash out before Davey pinched his arm, leaving two nail marks, saying ‘There see how you like it’.”
Tim Hook, for the defence, said there was no malice intention and said the father-of-one had not caused “significant harm”.
He said: “It was a case of inappropriate reaction and happened in the presence of someone else. If he was at any moment trying to cause pain, harm or discomfort he wouldn’t have done so in front of someone else.
“It was a lack of comprehension. He is not a man of aggressive disposition.”
The court heard how Davey, who worked as a driver for Northam Lodge before becoming a carer in July 2012, was suspended immediately. His term of employment has since been terminated.
Presiding magistrate Paul Cooper said: “You knew the victim and his mental and physical capability.
“He was an extremely vulnerable victim who is heavily dependent on those who care for him.”
Davey was given a four-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.
He was also ordered to pay £200 towards court costs and £80 compensation to the victim.
CHARLIE Dixon, chief executive of Northam Lodge, said: “We are all saddened by the distress this incident has caused our client and his family.
“We are very well respected locally for the quality of our care and are dismayed that someone who passed all of our pre-employment checks and training could have behaved in such a sickening way.
“Mr Davey was a new member of staff to Northam Lodge, who started working on our relief care team in July 2012.
“On the day of this incident, his conduct was brought to the attention of the senior support worker on duty and he was suspended immediately.
“We have supported our client and his family throughout the police investigation and have maintained their full trust and confidence in our work.”