Barbara Sykes perpetrated a ‘catalogue’ of ill-treatment and neglect against adults at the Elliot Centre for people with disabilities in Rotherham while she was manager there between 2010 and 2017, a court heard.
Staff at the council-run day centre reported how Sykes, 63, had a bullying, abrasive and domineering manner and one occasion dragged a woman from her chair.
Assistant manager Julie Paul-Slack, 56, was also found guilty of ill-treatment at Sheffield Crown Court yesterday after she assisted Sykes in dragging the lady from the dining room, along the the building and into the garden.
During the incident, staff had to rush to stop the female resident’s head from being struck against a metal doorplate of the door leading to outside.
Sykes was convicted of six counts of ill-treating a person lacking capacity. Co-defendant Paul-Slack, who worked at the home between 2010 and 2016, was found guilty of one count of the same offence.
Both women were bailed and will be sentenced on March 19, 2020.
The Elliott Centre was part of a service called REACH, run by Rotherham Council, to provide day care facilities for adults with learning difficulties, autism and challenging behavioural issues.
Staff were intimidated by Sykes and scared to report issues, while safeguarding incidents were sometimes not finished and clients’ preferred routines ignored. It was later discovered that a large quantity of records relating to Sykes’ time as manager had been destroyed.
Following the conviction, Helen Gaunt from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: “Sykes ruled the Elliott Centre with an iron rod, routinely inflicting ill-treatment on a range of vulnerable people.
“The clients had the right to be treated with respect and dignity. Their families, in entrusting their relatives to Sykes’ care had a rightful expectation that their vulnerable family members would be treated with compassion and care.
“Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth. Sykes bullied and routinely humiliated both her staff and the service-users. The Elliott Centre clients were all extremely vulnerable and entirely at her mercy.
“Today’s verdict makes clear that this type of criminal conduct towards vulnerable individuals will, where necessary, be investigated and prosecuted, and those responsible held to account for their actions."
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