Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland care worker at disability unit struck off for attacks on friend and teenage girl


When Ewart appeared at Coleraine Magistrates Court in August 2018, the attack on his former friend was described as
When Ewart appeared at Coleraine Magistrates Court in August 2018, the attack on his former friend was described as "shameful".
Lisa Smyth

By Lisa Smyth

A care worker assaulted a teenage girl just weeks after a warning was put on his registration for attacking a childhood friend with a wheel brace.

Caleb Lee Ewart (21) has been struck off the Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC) register as a result of the second assault, on the young girl.

The NISCC committee ruled that the only option open to it was to remove Ewart from the register as there were no mitigating factors in the case.

He was first convicted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm (AOABH), possession of an offensive weapon and criminal damage in August 2018.

A warning was placed on his registration on October 31, 2018, to remain in place for four years.

But just 17 days later, Ewart assaulted a 16-year-old girl.

At the time, he was a support worker employed by Fairways Cloonavin Ltd, a supported living home in Coleraine, Co Londonderry, for people who have a learning disability. He had been working at the unit since July 2016.

When Ewart appeared at Coleraine Magistrates Court in August 2018, the attack on his former friend was described as "shameful".

The court was told the victim was lucky that he was not killed or left with life-changing injuries after he was hit around the head with the wheel brace by Ewart, whose address was given at the time as Sea Road in Castlerock, Co Londonderry. He sustained cuts to his head and a fractured wrist in the attack in the early hours of November 5, 2017.

The court was told it happened after the victim went to an address in Castlerock and was struck twice on the head with a wheel brace by Ewart.

The victim ran off and was chased by Ewart who attacked him with the wheel brace again, the court heard.

It was claimed that the attack happened after the victim sent threatening texts to Ewart, although the court was told some of the facts of the case were disputed.

Ewart was ordered to carry out 200 hours of community service and to pay £1,000 compensation to the victim, which included the cost of an iPhone.

Passing sentence, Deputy District Judge Paul Conway said: "This was shameful behaviour, utterly shameful, and you are very lucky that you are here in this court for an offence of AOABH and not (in) the Crown Court facing an offence of manslaughter. The striking of someone on the head with an iron bar has to be one of the most dangerous and reckless acts committed.

"You could easily have caused either death or serious or prolonged life-changing injuries and all because there was some previous animosity between you."

During the hearing, the court was told Ewart described the attack on his former friend as "totally disgraceful" and "the biggest mistake of his life".

The NISCC held a fitness to practise hearing subsequent to Ewart's conviction.

The panel found that he had been found guilty of a serious offence which showed a disregard to the standards of conduct of care workers.

However, the panel also took into consideration Ewart's previous good character, the fact the incident happened outside of work so no residents were harmed, there was no repetition of the behaviour, his employers had provided satisfactory feedback and he had co-operated with the NISCC.

A warning was placed on his record on October 31, 2018, which did not stop Ewart from working as a care worker.

However, the NISCC was contacted by a member of the public less than a month later who said that Ewart had attacked his 16-year-old daughter on November 17, 2018.

He was charged with assault the following day and pleaded guilty on February 18 this year, two days after resigning from his job at Fairways.

An NISCC fitness to practise panel found Ewart had brought the profession into disrepute and he had "breached one of the fundamental tenets of the social care profession by being convicted of assaulting a young person".

The panel also found that Ewart had shown no insight and that "vulnerable service users in particular would be placed at risk if the registrant was permitted to practise on an unrestricted basis".

Given Ewart's previous conviction, the panel deemed that removal from the register was "both fair and proportionate".

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