Jury told of alleged abuse by carer

SASHA BORISSENKO
Last updated 12:58 20/05/2014

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A support worker grabbed a woman with Down syndrome by the neck and put her face centimetres away from a warming stove element, a jury has heard.

Deborah Michelle Waugh went on trial in the Nelson District Court yesterday. She has pleaded not guilty to a charge of ill treating/neglecting a vulnerable adult.

Crown prosecutor Jackson Webber said between October 31 and December 25, 2012, Waugh inflicted suffering on a 24-year-old woman with Down syndrome.

Waugh was employed as a support worker and facilitator at a Collingwood St house for people with intellectual disabilities.

Employed by Intellectual Disabilities Empowerment in Action (Idea), Waugh was a live-in worker who helped with the day-to-day care of three residents.

Webber told the jury that Waugh was helping the woman cook her evening meal when she became frustrated due to her slowness.

Waugh grabbed her hand and placed it onto a stove element that was recently turned on.

The woman suffered no burns.

Waugh then grabbed her by the back of the head and pushed her face close to the element, causing her great distress, Webber said..

The Crown also alleged that while the woman was preparing her lunch, Waugh became impatient, called her a "smart ass", grabbed her by the throat and pushed her out the door.

The woman was locked out of the house in the rain. Another flatmate witnessed the incident.

Webber said a final incident occurred when Waugh and the woman were in a dining room and Waugh pushed the victim into the door of a hot water cupboard.

Waugh was a loud and forceful person who often exploited and picked on the victim, Webber said.

The Crown said it was not until Waugh left her job at the home that an investigation took place.

The woman first spoke to police on April 13, 2013.

The defence, headed by Brett Daniel-Smith denies that any of the events in question occurred.

The trial continues.

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