Nurse regrets Áras Attracta incident, trial hearsFriday 08 January 2016 22.23
Legal proceedings against a number of people charged with assault at Aras Attracta in Co Mayo have concluded at Castlebar District Court.
Verdicts have yet to be delivered and some cases are subject to further applications by defence legal teams.
Two more people went on trial today charged with assault at the Áras Attracta residential centre in Co Mayo, while the trial of another person has been adjourned.
The incidents are alleged to have taken place on 15 November 2014.
Footage gathered as part of a report by the RTÉ Investigations Unit was shown as part of the prosecution case at Castlebar District Court.
Health care assistant Kathleen King from Straide, Foxford, Co Mayo, denies a charge of assault at Bungalow 3 at the HSE run centre in Swinford.
In filmed footage played in court today, Ms King is seen pushing a 66-year-old resident back into a chair.
After four days of hearings, the State concluded its prosecutions with the case against Ms King this afternoon.
Staff nurse Joan Walsh, of Carrowilkeen, Curry, Co Sligo, faces one charge in connection with an alleged assault at Áras Attracta.
The Court was shown video footage of Ms Walsh in the sitting room of the building on that date. She is seen to slap a resident on the hand.
Henry Kenny, acting programme director at Áras Attracta at the time, told the court, that the resident is 75 years old and has profound communication difficulties.
Clinical Nurse Specialist at the centre, Martin Maguire, told the court that the lady had been in care all her life. He said the intervention depicted in the video footage was not acceptable.
Under cross examination by defending barrister, Keith O'Grady, Mr Maguire was asked about care plans for the resident.
Mr O'Grady said his client deeply regretted the incident. He said Ms Walsh "knows and accepts it shouldn't have happened".
Giving evidence, Ms Walsh said staff had ongoing concerns about resources and staffing constraints at Áras Attracta.
She told Judge Devins that she found her working environment very stressful and had sought reduced working hours around the time of the alleged incident. This could not be accommodated by management at the time.
Ms Walsh told the court that she did not recall the incident until she saw it on video. She said she regretted it and said that in hindsight she would like to think she would do things very differently.
She described it as "poor judgement, in an instant reaction."
When asked by Prosecuting Counsel Patrick Reynolds if she considered such an action could constitute an assault she replied "no I don't, that wasn't my attention."
In his closing submission, defending barrister, Keith O'Grady, said his client was working a 12 and a half hour shift on the day in question and was employed in a "full on, stressful environment".
He described the slap as a split-second action and pointed out that there had never been a complaint about his client ever before.
Mr O'Grady also contended that the State had not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that his client was guilty of an assault and that the charges should be dismissed.
Meanwhile, the trial of Anna Ywunong Botsimbo has been adjourned after an issue arose in her case.
The agency nurse, with an address at Low Park Avenue, Charlestown, Co Mayo, faces one charge of assault at Áras Attracta.
Judge Mary Devins said during the course of yesterday's hearing she was made aware of matters in a memo of an interview between the accused and a member of the gardaí.
Two of the answers involved a complainant who is mentioned in one of the other cases before the court this week.
Judge Devins said it was her view that this meant the court was compromised and that it would be highly improper for her to continue to hear Ms Botsimbo's case.
She adjourned proceedings in the case so that arrangements could be made for the entire matter to be heard in front of another judge.
The case has been put back for mention, to a sitting of Swinford District Court, sitting in Ballina, next month.