A CARE assistant who was reported by colleagues for his treatment of a 78-year-old dementia patient at Holywell Hospital in Antrim claims there was a "conspiracy" against him, a court was told.
Moses Adesanya (56), of Cherry Gardens in the Twinbrook area near Belfast, had contested two charges of assaulting the victim in relation to February 14 last year but was recently convicted at a contest.
He was back at Antrim Magistrates Court, sitting in Ballymena, on Tuesday for sentencing.
A prosecutor said the defendant had been a health assistant at a ward for dementia patients at Holywell.
He had been assigned to provide the victim with "one on one care" to assist him with his daily needs.
On the morning of February 14 last year the defendant was in a bedroom with the victim and a staff member saw Adesanya "use both hands, he grabbed the victim's clothing on his back and forcefully pulled him back down into the chair".
The prosecutor added that the defendant was heard to "aggressively call the injured party by his name and to 'sit down' or words to that effect".
At 5pm the same day the victim opened a toilet door where staff had another patient.
Staff asked Adesanya to "re-direct" the 78-year-old and the defendant "was then seen to pull the victim by his clothing in a manner that they described as 'could have choked' the victim as the material was pulled up in to the victim's neck."
The prosecutor said the staff reported the incidents and Adesanya was "taken off the ward".
No injuries were sustained by the injured party, the court heard.
When interviewed by police the defendant, who had a previously clear record, "claimed it was a conspiracy against him," the prosecutor said.
A defence lawyer said Adesanya "maintains his innocence" and intends to appeal the conviction.
The lawyer said the defendant said it had been a case "where he essentially followed the patient to the bathroom, where he had walked towards, and then restrained him by the arms from the back in order to stop a dementia patient, essentially, striking out".
The court heard Adesanya "lost his job" in February last year.
The lawyer added: "He is a pre-settlement status immigrant and has been unable to avail of any benefits in the intervening period. He has sourced employment in the financial services industry but I don't believe he has started that yet."
He said Adesanya had been unemployed for a year and had been "relying on family financially".
If the appeal is unsuccessful, the lawyer said, the defendant has "agreed to pay compensation".
District Judge Nigel Broderick said: "It is obviously worrying for anybody to learn of a health care assistant commit what the court regarded as an assault on a patient, especially one aged 78 years of age and who had been diagnosed as suffering from dementia".
The judge said he could "recall vividly" the contest and the evidence given by the defendant's "co-workers".
The judge added: "I do accept that when you are working as a health care assistant on such wards dealing with patients with dementia there will invariably be some physical contact between the health care worker and the patient.
"But in my view the evidence was sufficient to convince me, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you had crossed the line insofar as the physical contact you had with the victim went beyond mere attempts to sit down properly or to take him away from an area where he wasn't meant to be, namely a toilet."
The judge said fellow staff members were "so concerned that your actions stepped over the line of what would normally be permitted in such circumstances to justify a complaint to the police which then resulted in you being charged and ultimately being convicted".
He took into account the previous clear record and said it was "not without significance that you ahve been formally dismissed and that you have no doubt found it difficult to sustain yourself in the absence of a regular income".
Judge Broderick handed down a four months prison term, suspended for two years.
The defendant had bail for appeal fixed in the sum of £500.