Grimsby carer cleared of 'daring' patients to perform indecent act at Bradley Woodlands Independent Hospital
A FORMER care worker has spoken of his relief after being cleared of inciting a mental health patient in his care to perform an indecent act on another patient.
Robert Hepburn, 33, of Rosemary Avenue, Grimsby, said he was looking forward to "finally getting a full night's sleep" following the verdict at Grimsby Crown Court.
Prosecuting, Simon Waley, said it was claimed that a patient at Bradley Woodlands Independent Hospital – a low security mental health unit – had been "dared" to carry out the act by Mr Hepburn, then a senior support worker at the facility.
However, it took the jury of nine men and three women less than 40 minutes to clear Mr Hepburn of encouraging the patient in the incident, which is said to have taken place on March 16, 2011.
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The court heard the matter had come to the attention of the police after Mark Perry, a support worker at the hospital, told nursing staff Mr Hepburn had bragged about the incident to him during a cigarette break.
Mr Perry claimed Mr Hepburn had said the patients – who cannot be named for legal reasons – were "on heat" and that he and a fellow worker, Matthew Howdon, who was never charged, had dared one to carry out the act, believing it to be funny.
He said he had reported the incident four days later, after speaking to the alleged victim, who he said told him to "mind his own business" but was "clearly hiding something" by his body language.
However, Andrew Bailey, defending, told the court Mr Perry had made up the allegations, claiming he had a grudge against his client, having taken the side of Mr Hepburn's former wife Rebecca in what had become a bitter divorce. The alleged victim of the incident did not claim to have heard or seen Mr Hepburn urging the other patient to carry out the act. He also said while he believed Mr Hepburn had been near his bedroom door when the act had been carried out, he could not be sure of this.
Both Mr Hepburn and his family, who were in the public gallery throughout the four-day trial, were visibly relieved at the outcome and thanked the jury for their decision.
A spokesperson for Bradley Woodlands Independent Hospital said: "The safeguarding of patients is our highest priority and we took the allegations extremely seriously from the outset by informing the relevant authorities about the incident and then co-operating fully with their investigations.
"We will continue to enforce a zero-tolerance policy with regard to any staff behaviour that may be deemed inappropriate in the support we provide to vulnerable adults."