Court frees care home bully for appeal moments after relatives applaud jail term
A disgraced care home worker who bullied elderly and vulnerable residents and assaulted the whistleblower who told authorities about her behaviour has been jailed for four months.
Relatives clapped in the public gallery of Lisburn Magistrates' Court as 41-year-old Lisa Cullen was taken away to the cells.
However, the west Belfast woman, who has shown no remorse for the abuse, was freed moments later after District Judge Rosie Watters released her on her own bail of £500, pending an appeal.
Sentencing Cullen, who she labelled a "bully," and barring her from working with vulnerable adults, Judge Watters said her offences were such that "nothing other than an immediate custodial sentence is merited."
Outside the court, Jim McCarthy, whose mum Catherine - known as Cassie - had been struck by Cullen, said the jail term was "fair enough."
"At the start we were all sympathetic to the circumstances, but when she showed no remorse by hitting the witness, I think that's a just sentence for her - a custodial sentence is fair enough," he added.
"She was convicted of slapping mum across the face, but to put the hood of someone's dressing gown up over their face and put them in a corner, I cannot comprehend how anyone could do that to anyone, let alone an elderly person."
Rosemary Thompson, another resident's relative, said: "She told my husband, who had Alzheimer's and was like a baby, to go out and play in the buses, better still to go and run in the traffic. She'll not get doing it on anybody else."
Frances Gallagher, who was assaulted by Cullen (left), added: "They (residents) deserved their dignity, their respect. Their families trusted us with their loved ones, not to end up what this girl has done on them."
Following a contested hearing last November, Cullen, from Lagmore Dale, was convicted of seven counts of ill treating a total of five residents - two men and three women - at the Kilwee Care Home in Dunmurry on dates between November 30, 2012, and December 31, 2013.
On the day Judge Watters announced her damning convictions, Cullen "thumped" Crown witness and whistleblower Frances Gallagher in the back as she left court, calling her a "gimpy c***".
Cullen was due to go on trial for common assault yesterday, but just before the case proceeded her defence barrister said she now accepted her guilt.
A prosecuting lawyer told the court that Ms Gallagher was "upset and shaking" after Cullen assaulted her, especially in light of her disability and the defendant's derogatory remark.
During a plea in mitigation, Cullen's defence barrister revealed her "life has been made a misery" because of comments on social media and media attention.
She revealed Cullen had received a live bullet in the post and her house was up for sale because she could not pay her mortgage after losing her job.