A 59-year-old care manager has been sentenced to 240 hours community service after being found guilty of assault at Áras Attracta in Co Mayo.

Pat McLoughlin, with an address at Mayfield, Claremorris, had appealed the severity of a four-month prison sentence, which was imposed last February. 

The charges followed a garda investigation, after a report by the RTÉ Investigations Unit into care standards at the Swinford centre. 

McLoughlin was one of six staff members who were charged with assault.

Four others were given community service and ordered to pay compensation. The sixth worker will go on trial next month. 

At Castlebar Circuit Criminal Court today, Judge Rory McCabe said the actions might not have come to light if it were not for the RTÉ documentary.

He also criticised the Health Information and Quality Authority which had "given Áras Attracta a clean bill of health" prior to the offences taking place. 

The judge said the HIQA inspection regime had failed to detect "abysmal standards" which had led to "dehumanising treatment of vulnerable people". He said in some respects the authority's failings made it complicit, because it had failed to record a "shocking misuse of power".

The court heard the victim was a resident at Bungalow 3 at Áras Attracta and was non verbal. An order that she not be named was reiterated in court today. She was referred to as Miss A throughout the proceedings. 

The court was shown an extract of the material filmed by RTÉ for the documentary.

In it,  McLoughlin is seen to approach the chair in which Miss A was sitting and sit on top of her for between 15 and 20 seconds. He then got up and walked across the room before being followed by the victim.

Another staff member then told Miss A to apologise to McLoughlin and to "chillax".

Judge McCabe said the video footage did not lie but he said he was not sure of the interests of justice would be best served by imposing a different penalty on McLoughlin because he was in a position of authority.

He ordered the accused carry out 240 hours of community service and pay €1,000 in compensation to the personal fund of Miss A. 

During today's hearing, McLoughlin's barrister told the court his client was profoundly sorry for what he accepted as "appalling and unacceptable conduct".

Conall MacCarthy said the actions did not represent McLoughlin's service over 35 years in the care sector. He had an unblemished career to that point and had suffered the consequences of the incident in question. 

The court heard McLoughlin had been afraid to go outside his door for a long period after the documentary was transmitted and had health issues as a result of the  stress caused by the trial process. 

Judge McCabe queried McLoughlin's failure to express regret until now, when the issues had been ventilated in court. 

Afterwards, relatives of the assault victim said they were disappointed with the outcome of the appeal.

They said they had been particularly upset at video footage in which their sister was told to apologise to McLoughlin, after he sat on her and added that she had been wary of others since the incident took place. 

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