A former aged care worker who brutally bashed a 72-year-old dementia patient in her own bed was sentenced to a minimum of nine months jail in an Adelaide courthouse yesterday.
Michael Andrew Mullen, 55, was found guilty of horrifically assaulting Ms. Elizabeth Hannaford the Lourdes Valley Nursing Home, at Myrtle Bank, in November of 2015.
It is alleged that Mr. Mullen became frustrated with Elizabeth Hannaford after she repeatedly triggered an alarm by pulling on the cords that were attached to the sensor mats around her bed, and struck her in the face on multiple occasions with extreme force.
In a police interview, Mr. Mullen denied the assault and alleged that Ms. Hannefords facial bruising was instead the result of her falling out of bed and striking her face on a bedside cabinet, but Ms. Hannaford’s roommate at the time of the assault, Meg Rogers, gave evidence that refuted those claims.
Ms. Rogers told the court that she overheard Mullen telling Ms. Hanneford ‘you’re doing my bloody head in’ and also threatened that there would be ‘consequences’ if the 72-year-old continued to trigger the alarm.
Ms. Rogers also claims to have heard the sound of Mr. Mullens punches, followed by Ms. Hannaford saying the word ‘no’ in a ‘pained and wounded’ voice.
In sentencing on Monday, Magistrate Paul Foley shed light on the circumstances that lead to the brutal bashing of the vulnerable elderly mother.
“Eventually you became so annoyed with her that you came into the room she shared with (another resident) and struck her in the face more than once,” he said. “There can be no excuse for you assaulting Ms. Hannaford, who was in your care that morning and vulnerable.”
Sadly, Ms. Hannaford died only 3 months after the brutal attack that left her face swollen and unrecognisable, and her relatives are yet to receive any kind of apology or signs of remorse from her attacker.
Ms. Hannaford’s daughter, Joanna Warde, spoke at the front of the Adelaide courthouse, labeling Mr. Mullen a ‘monster.’
“Mum would never hurt anybody and definitely did not deserve the pain she went through due to your actions.”
“She was helpless and she was fragile. You were supposed to care for her. You did the opposite,” said Ms. Warde.
Ms. Hannaford’s family is horrified that Mr. Mullen may soon walk free after the attacker’s lawyer immediately lodged an appeal, asking the magistrate to immediately release Mr. Mullen on home detention bail.
The Magistrate told Mr. Mullen that he needed to send a strong message to the community by jailing him but did concede that bail is often granted during the appeals process which can take months.
Ms. Hannaford’s family took some time yesterday to praise the governments trial rollout of CCTV camera in aged care homes but also warned that more needs to be done in order to help ensure the safety of vulnerable elderly people.
“Patient to staff ratios is an issue, there’s just so many issues,” said Ms. Warde.
Mr. Mullen’s bail hearing is scheduled for this Thursday.
Picture Courtesy of AAP / Kelly Barnes