Sheriff excoriates prosecutors over disability prejudice charge

Sheriff excoriates prosecutors over disability prejudice charge

A sheriff has criticised prosecutors after he threw out a case in which a care worker allegedly spiked the drink of a man with severe learning difficulties using mayonnaise The Courier reports.

The care worker, Mark Courage, offered to plead guilty to a charge of illtreating or wilfully neglecting the man at Elmgrove Care Home in Dundee so long as prosecutors dropped the allegation he was “aggravated by prejudice relating to disability”.

However, because of Crown Office rules, the case went to trial at Dundee Sheriff Court.

Sheriff Alistair Brown threw the case out after half an hour of evidence.

Wendy Kidd, a senior support worker at the care home said Mr Courage was working with her and another staff member at the time.

They were eating dinner with some patients of the home in the dining hall.

She said: “The patient — who is nonverbal — put his hand up and wanted some sauce on his tea.

“Mark went over and did that, and then shortly after he raised his hand again.

“Mark got up and went over and gave him a cup of tea — then he said ‘would you like some more mayonnaise and held the bottle over his cup.

“The bottle then got squeezed and it went in his cup of tea.

“The patient then drank it. My colleague said ‘He’s not just done what I think he has?’ and I said ‘yes’.”

She added: “The patient’s behaviour can be volatile and he got agitated, so Mark took him by the arm and the back of his shirt and said ‘don’t ******* start I’m not in the mood’ and took him up the stairs.”

Mr Courage’s solicitor, Ian Houston, told the court: “The defence position is that there are three elements to this charge — putting a substance in the drink, a derogatory remark and frogmarching the patient to his room.”

But a second witness was unable to corroborate events and a third witness was not cited to give evidence.

Following the second witness’ evidence the depute fiscal Mohammad Sadiqsaid he was no longer looking to secure a conviction in the case.

Sheriff Alistair Brown, regarding the rejection of the guilty plea offered, asked Mr Sadiq: “Is this a case of someone in Crown Office overruling a prosecutor who is actually in court and knows the case?”

After the case was thrown out, he said: “Taken at it’s highest, the evidence was that Mark Courage may have held some mayonnaise over a cup of tea.

“He then made a comment which indicated a certain contempt for the patient.

“Assuming the truth of all of this it would indicate an unsuitability of Mr Courage for the job he was doing and a certain frustration that one may understand.

“I don’t know how the Crown ever hoped to seek a conviction at trial.

“There’s no conceivable basis for suggesting what was done manifested prejudice and it is regrettable this case was ever brought.”

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