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Disgraced Belfast care home worker denies assaulting whistleblower

By Paul Higgins

A disgraced care home worker has denied assaulting the whistleblower who told the authorities she was abusing elderly and vulnerable residents.

As 41-year-old Lisa Cullen stood in the dock on Thursday at Lisburn Magistrates Court, her defence solicitor told the court she was pleading not guilty to the single charge that she common assaulted Frances Gallagher on 18 November last year.  

A prosecuting lawyer said the date for her contest on that charge had been set for 6 February and District Judge Rosie Watters said she would not deal with the other case where Cullen was convicted of abusing elderly residents until the assault case had been determined. 

Following a short trial last November Cullen, from Lagmore Dale in the Dunmurry area of west Belfast, was convicted of seven counts of ill treating a total of five residents, two men and three women, at the Kilwee Nursing home in Dunmurry, on dates between 30 November 2012 and 31 December 2013.

The court heard that in a number of incidents, Cullen left a male resident with a hood over his head and wheeled another resident into an empty room and left him here despite his repeated calls for help.

The Kilwee Nursing home, on Cloona Park in Dunmurry, is a purpose built nursing home which cost £3 million to build before it opened its doors in 2011 and is equipped to care for 44 elderly residents, specialising in patients suffering from dementia.

Although the is no question or suggestion that Cullen is linked to any other allegations, the Conway group owned home has hit the headlines before, in August 2012 when a male resident physically assaulted a female dementia patient and two months earlier in June 2012 when the RQIA (Regional and Quality Improvement Authority) threatened it with closure over numerous and multiple breaches of management regulations.

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