Personal Care Assistant, Gary Cripps, 63, will serve one month in jail after pleading guilty to two counts of sexual assault against 62-year-old Jeanette Post in the Geelong Magistrates Court last week.
The assaults occurred at the Sea Views Manor aged care home in Ocean Grove where Ms. Post lived as a resident in the special needs unit, under the care of her eventual attacker.
Ms. Post was living with Alzheimer’s at the time of the assault and died only three months after the abuse had taken place. Family members told the court that they witnessed a “rapid decline” in the victim’s health following the assault that continued until her death.
The victim’s daughter, Jade Pigdon, spoke to reporters outside the court and expressed her concerns on the lack of staff in aged care facilities, and the aged care system in general.
“I really hope that through the aged care royal commission that people listen to this story and we increase staffing and our ratios and money and just recognise that the victims of these crimes in aged care are just so vulnerable,” she said.
“It’s not just them who are victims, it’s the people who have placed their trust in a system that we think is broken.”
The court heard that Mr. Cripps repeatedly kissed the victim inappropriately on her lips, face, chest, and hands while caring for her in the special needs unit of the Ocean Grover nursing home.
Ms. Post’s daughter told reporters that Mr. Cripps “took advantage” of her mother at a “vulnerable” time in her life and that her family did trust Mr. Cripps at one point in time but Mr. Cripps had violated that trust to a level that is “indescribable.”
Mr. Cripps was sentenced to one month in jail, followed by an 18-month community corrections order and will also be placed on the sex offenders register for 15 years.
Mr. Cripps’ defence lawyer told the court that his client felt remorseful for the hurt he caused the victim and her family, and alleged that Mr. Cripps was going through a personal “meltdown” at the time of the offending.
The court also heard a powerful victim impact statement written by Ms. Post’s husband, who is currently living with motor neurone disease, in which he declared that he has cried every day since the assault on his wife and that he now suffers from panic attacks.
Magistrate Peter Mellas highlighted how Mr. Cripps betrayed the trust of both Ms. Post and her family members who were made to believe that she was in good hands.
“The offending was committed against a vulnerable woman who was unable to protect herself,” he said.
“His behaviour .. will have an ongoing impact on the [victim’s] family.”
Ms. Pigdon told reporters that her family was relieved that Mr. Cripps was jailed, labeling him a “predator” who “chose to take advantage of a woman who was incapable of saying no”.
“As a family, we can put this behind us now.
“It’s time for us to close the door on it and start grieving our mum in the way that we should have been able to in the
Ms. Pigdon also spoke about her hopes for the ongoing Royal Commission into aged care and called for better protection for nursing home residents.
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