A Canberra man has been accused of assaulting his colleague when he grabbed her by the throat and threatened that “he could kill her”.  

Lakshman “Lucky” Senanayake, 68, and the 17-year-old co-worker both worked at an aged care facility in the north Canberra suburb of Page, where the incident occurred last June.

Mr Senanayake had been working at the facility for the past five years, while she was working as a carer.

One of the young woman’s responsibilities was serving the residents their meals – which involved collecting the meals from the main kitchen and bringing it to the residents’ kitchen.  

It was also her duty to check the stock of biscuits, to see if there was enough for both morning and afternoon tea – and if there wasn’t, to order more from the main kitchen.

What allegedly occurred was that Mr Senanayake asked his coworker if she had checked the biscuit supply in the home’s ‘respite care’ section at breakfast time.

And when she responded that she hadn’t, he apparently became aggressive, grabbing her throat and said: “I could kill you.”

When she felt him touch her, which she described as “a lot of pressure” that he held on for a couple of seconds, she pushed him away with both hands, after which she told him “you’ve gone too far this time”.

He responded with “sorry darl”. She told the court that after the incident, she ran down the corridor to find her supervisors.

On Monday, Mr Senanayake fought the charges at a hearing in the ACT Magistrates Court – where he pleaded not guilty to one count of common assault.

Mr Senanayake told the police that not only was the teenager was lying about the incident, but that she was jealous of him and wanted to cause trouble.

“This person does not like me and that’s why she made these charges against me,” he said in the interview.

He claims that all he did was touch her hand.

When it comes to violence in an aged care setting, the most common cases are that of are situations involving staff and families or staff and residents.

This case brings to attention the reality of situations where assaults can happen internally among staff and aged care workers. 

The bullying culture between nurses is what is more often discussed, but that does not mean it doesn’t occur between other kinds of aged care or health workers.

The hearing is set to continue at a later date in December.

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