Áras Attracta care worker denies assault claimThursday 07 January 2016 23.15
The trials of three of the five people charged with assault at Áras Attracta in Co Mayo have concluded at Castlebar District Court.
The case against Christina Delaney, from Lissatava, Hollymount, Co Mayo was put before the court this afternoon.
She has pleaded not guilty to one charge of assault alleged to have taken place in Áras Attracta on 15 November 2014.
Judge Mary Devins watched a video clip recorded by a hidden camera in the sitting room of Bungalow 3 at Áras Attracta on the date in question.
In it, the defendant is seen seeming to push a resident into a chair and placing her leg across the front of the armchair.
Henry Kenny was acting programme director at the HSE-run facility at the time in question. He identified Ms Delaney in the footage. He told the court she was employed as a health care assistant.
Under cross examination by Counsel for the State, a Clinical Nurse Specialist at Áras Attracta, Martin Maguire, said the intervention depicted in the video footage was not acceptable.
In her evidence to the court Ms Delaney spoke about the events leading to the alleged assault and the relationship she had with the resident in question.
She said she had placed the resident in the chair because "all I wanted to do was put her in a safe zone so she would be safe for the evening."
Ms Delaney said she had asked for the resident's consent and that she was concerned that she might display "challenging behaviour" that could lead to self injury.
When asked if she intended to assault the resident or was reckless in her actions, she answered "no".
Under cross-examination she said she did not consider that her actions amounted to assault.
Counsel for Ms Delaney, Conall MacCarthy, put it to the court that the State had failed to prove that an assault had taken place to the standard required.
Judge rules Áras Attracta trial can proceed
Earlier, Judge Devins said she was satisfied that there were prima facie cases to answer and that it was in the public interest for the trials to continue at Castlebar District Court.
She ruled that the prosecution can only call evidence relating to the dates on which the incidents are alleged to have occurred - 14 and 15 November 2014.
The proceedings follow a report by the RTÉ Investigations Unit on care standards at the Swinford centre.
In a lengthy ruling, Judge Devins said a failure to properly scrutinise a computer hard drive by the prosecution, defence and RTÉ had led to a "surprise element" in oral evidence earlier this week.
But she said deleted and non-transferred film footage did not relate to dates that were central to the assault charges.
Judge Devins said the remote possibility that evidence had been lost should not be allowed to trip up the prosecution or stop the case.
Accepting there were differences between a master hard drive of footage held by RTÉ and a drive copied by the broadcaster for gardaí, she said the law did not demand perfect but fair justice.
Counsel for the State Patrick Reynolds told the court that the prosecution was happy with the integrity of the clips they intended to rely on.
He said that the master RTÉ hard drive and the second drive made by the broadcaster had been examined by garda IT experts in Dublin in the time since the court last sat on Tuesday.
Mr Reynolds said analysis by Detective Paul Fitzpatrick showed the RTÉ drive had files deleted or others that were replaced from another drive used during the editing process.
Legal representatives for the five accused healthcare workers then applied for adjournments so that they could ascertain the exact nature of these deletions and transfers.
Gearoid Geraghty said a report presented by the prosecution on foot of the technical analysis showed 364 additional files had been compromised.
Eoin Garavan BL said it was "uniquely unfair" that a State exhibit had been analysed without defence legal teams being informed.
Judge Devins said she found it "somewhat surprising" that the State had taken this course of action, after she had adjourned proceedings in relation to such a request last Tuesday.
Mr Reynolds confirmed that the prosecution had consulted with the DPP and that it was the view that the proceedings should "absolutely proceed".
Judge Devins said a lack of scrutiny of evidence by all parties was very unsatisfactory. She said pre-trial disclosure seemed to have been so extensive that it created a sand storm.
She said she wanted to get through that now and pare matters back to what they were.
She said she was satisfied that the chain of evidence was secure and the contentious files did not give rise to specific or implied prejudice.
The judge added that the assault charges in question were minor offences that could only be tried at district court level.
She said she wanted to hear evidence in relation to the actual dates on which the alleged offences occurred and would proceed on that basis.
Court shown video footage
Proceedings in relation to Pat McLoughlin were heard.
Mr McLoughlin, of Mayfield, Claremorris, is charged with assault on 14 November 2014 at Bungalow 3 at Áras Attracta.
The court was shown video footage filmed by RTÉ in the common room of the bungalow on the afternoon in question.
In it, a man identified as Mr McLoughlin by Harry Kenny of the Health Service Executive, is seen sitting on a resident in Áras Attracta.
A second witness - Martin Maguire, who works as a Clinical Nurse Specialist at Áras Attracta, told the court that this was an unacceptable type of patient management.
He described Mr McLoughlin as a good member of staff who would advocate on behalf of patients.
After brief evidence from Detective Inspector James Carroll, the State concluded its case against Mr McLoughlin.
Anna Ywunong Botsimbo of Low Park Avenue, Charlestown did not give evidence.
Her solicitor Peter Flynn said the most the State could show was that his client held a resident by a hoodie and steered her into a chair.