Belfast Telegraph

Antrim care worker's 'catalogue of abuse' on mental health patients

By Paul Higgins

A disgraced care worker convicted of ill-treating three mental health patients has been jailed for six months - the maximum sentence she faced.

Jailing Tracey Balantine (29) at Antrim Magistrates Court and ordering her to pay £1,000 to each of her victims - aged 46, 52 and 55 - District Judge Paul Copeland said he was aware it was "rare" for the maximum sentence to be imposed but that in her case "an exceptional course should be taken".

Describing her offences as a "catalogue of abuse of the basest kind", Judge Copeland told Balantine: "This was an appalling breach of trust and the families will be outraged, and so should any right thinking members of the public, who placed their sick and afflicted loved ones into your care."

Balantine, from the Garden Village in Antrim was later freed on her own bail of £500 pending an appeal of the sentence.

At the end of her contest last month, Balantine was convicted of six counts of the ill-treatment "or wilfully neglecting" three patients, a man and two women, at Broadacres Residential Unit in Templepatrick between December 31, 2016, and April 1 last year.

She was also found guilty of common assault of the male complainant.

One member of staff reported that during a night shift, they had found the man "tied with straps to his wheelchair with blankets around him to avoid leaving marks" and that the chair handles had been "wedged into the bed bars to stop him moving".

Another incident which was reported related to an incident in March last year when a female resident was being settled in her room at around 3am.

"The defendant came in, put both hands on her shoulders, pushed her to the ground and said, 'I can f****** push too'," said the lawyer.

The court heard that in one incident Balantine told a resident to "f*** up" while holding her hand over his mouth.

The lawyer said the common assault offence arose when the male resident, who suffered from mobility problems, had walked down the hallway from his room using handrails.

Balantine, the court heard, came behind him and pushed her knee into the back of his knee, causing him to fall, before ordering him to "get up you d*** ****."

Belfast Telegraph

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