Care worker 'made patient drink vinegar'

A HEALTHCARE worker at a hospital for people with mental health problems punished a patient by making him drink a cup of vinegar, it has been alleged. Shane Searle, 27, became annoyed after the patient, who suffers from autism and learning difficulties, drank his fizzy drink, Ipswich Crown Court was told.

A HEALTHCARE worker at a hospital for people with mental health problems punished a patient by making him drink a cup of vinegar, it has been alleged.

Shane Searle, 27, became annoyed after the patient, who suffers from autism and learning difficulties, drank his fizzy drink, Ipswich Crown Court was told.

Two fellow care workers at Walker Close Hospital in Ipswich, watched in disbelief as Searle allegedly took a mug out of a cupboard and filled it three quarters full of vinegar before giving it to the patient to drink.

The other workers had been unable to stop the patient from drinking the vinegar as the incident happened so quickly.


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“Neither could believe what they had seen,” said Charles Myatt, prosecuting.

He said that when one of the workers challenged Searle about what he had done he replied: “He shouldn't have drunk my Coke.”

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The two care workers had been troubled by the incident and had later reported it to another member of staff.

Searle, of Pearson Road, Ipswich, has denied ill-treating a patient on October 22 last year.

Mr Myatt told the court that the patient at the centre of the case was in his mid-30s and had suffered a viral infection at birth, which had left him unable to care for himself.

The man tended to agree with anything that was put to him and staff at the hospital had to be careful not to leave liquids lying around because of the man's tendency to drink anything.

At the time of the alleged incident the man was a resident in one of four bungalows at Walker Place, which specialise in looking after people with learning difficulties, mental health problems and challenging behaviour.

The court heard that after his arrest Searle denied making the patient drink vinegar.

He claimed that other members of staff had put their heads together and made up the allegation after he challenged them about experiments he claimed they were carrying out on patients.

The trial continues today.

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