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Appeal dismissed for care home manageress who neglected Romford dementia patients

PUBLISHED: 12:00 26 November 2010

The Royal Courts of Justice

The Royal Courts of Justice

Archant

THE manageress of a care home who ill-treated elderly and vulnerable residents has failed in an Appeal Court bid to clear her name.

Clare Dunn mistreated three elderly residents – two of whom suffered from dementia – at The Priory care home in Priory Road, Noak Hill.

The 47-year-old, of Thorney Bay Park, Canvey Island, was handed a community punishment, with 180 hours unpaid work, at Southend Crown Court after a jury found her guilty of four counts of ill treatment of a person without capacity. Two of the counts related to the same victim.

Dunn this week challenged her convictions at London’s Criminal Appeal Court, with lawyers arguing they were “unsafe” because the trial judge had misdirected the jury.

But the challenge was dismissed by top judges, who said the crown court judge’s directions did not affect the safety of the jury’s verdicts.

The nation’s most senior judge – the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge – told the court Dunn began working at the care home in 2005, having provided good references to her employers.

However, an investigation was launched in 2008 after members of staff wrote a “whistleblowing letter”, complaining about the way she treated residents and some staff.

The prosecution case at trial was that she had ill-treated three residents – all in their 80s and 90s – between 2007 and 2008.

An 81-year-old man, who the court heard was unable to make decisions for himself, had to be given medical attention after he became distressed when Dunn placed him incorrectly in a hoist.

She also left a “rather pleasant” 96-year-old woman slumped on the floor and threw a walking frame at an 88-year-old man – speaking to him using abusive and offensive language.

The court heard all three victims had some sort of mental incapacity, with two suffering from dementia.

Dunn denied the offences, claiming she was the victim of an “orchestrated campaign” to discredit her, but she was convicted on all four counts.

Her lawyers argued the trial judge gave the jury an “inadequate” direction about the issue of mental capacity, saying he was not specific enough about the individual victims.

But Lord Judge, sitting with Mr Justice Calvert-Smith and Mr Justice Griffith Williams, dismissed Dunn’s appeal, saying the crown court judge’s directions had “properly addresssed” the issues the jury had to resolve.


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