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Muckamore Abbey care worker pledges to appeal conviction for assaulting a patient

By Chris Kilpatrick

Care worker Karen Hayes insisted she had done nothing wrong as she left Antrim Magistrates Court.

Ms Hayes, who had been working at Muckamore Abbey since 2001, said she would appeal her conviction for assaulting a patient.

She said: "It's not true, what more can I say?"

Her colleague Margaret Hill, who had worked at Muckamore for 42 years, said she felt sympathy for her friend.

She said she had been living through a hellish two years since being suspended when the allegations against her first came to light.

She was cleared of all seven charges she had faced.

"I've had to wait two years," she said.

"In nearly 50 years with the health service I never had one complaint, I've a totally clear record. I haven't been able to work for two years. Two years out of pocket. It's disgraceful.

"I do feel sorry for Karen. We've been through this together and I will continue to support her."

There are 150 patients in Muckamore Abbey and those admitted are usually over 18 years old.

Its website describes it as providing inpatient assessment and treatment facilities for people with severe learning disabilities and mental health needs, forensic needs or challenging behaviour.

The majority of people admitted to Muckamore Abbey are detained under the Mental Health Order.

Last year concerns were raised about patient experiences. The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority said an inspection of one ward - Moylena - in June 2012 highlighted particularly distressing failings in basic care for patients.

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