Care home resident placed in hot bath ‘screamed twice’, court told

Nipahawan Berry
Nipahawan Berry
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A care assistant giving evidence has denied a suggestion she was “trying not to be linked” to bathing residents on the day a 99-year-old woman was scalded at a care home.

Former Briarwood care assistant and witness Laura Copling was cross-examined on the second day of the trial of three people accused ill treating and neglecting three men and five women at the former Briarwood Rest Home in Lostock Hall, Preston.

Owners Meghadeven Pumien, 64, and Indranee Pumbien, 59, of Grosvenor Place, Ashton, Preston, deny neglect in respect of resident Margaret Wheatley’s injuries and perverting the course of justice.

Indranee Pumbien denies 13 counts of ill treatment and Meghadeven denies neglecting to provide adequate lifting equipment and training.

Their employee Niphawan Berry, denies causing grievous bodily harm by lowering Mrs Wheatley into a scalding hot bath, a charge of ill treatment in which she is alleged to have pushed a patient forcibly back into his chair and a charge of neglect after allegedly failing to seek treatment for Mrs Wheatley’s scalds.

Miss Copling worked alongside Berry, 42, of Christ Church Street, Preston, who she knows as ‘Lek’, the day Mrs Wheatley, who suffered dementia, was scalded, Preston Crown Court was told.

Laura described to the court how she ran a bath for her before Berry took over.

She said: “I went down and told Lek the bath was for Margaret. She had already got her dressed and ready and brought her out of her room. I went back into the bathroom and turned it off and put some cold in. Lek walked in and I told her I was hot and walked out.

“I heard a scream but she does sometimes scream when you put her in the bath. She screamed twice.”

Berry’s defence lawyer said: “I’m going to suggest you didn’t tell us the whole truth, I don’t expect you’ll agree with me.

After quizzing her about bathing records, he said: “Is is that you, due to the passage of time, don’t remember?

“Or are you desperately trying to not be linked in any way to the bathing of residents on that day?”

Miss Copling denied bathing her, and told the court false entries had been made on records that were presented to the court.

Asked why she had said she had not done certain tasks when records showed her name next to them, she said she could not remember because it was a year ago, but added: “When you get rung up at 6.30pm saying someone’s covered in blisters and they are having to peel her socks off - that’s what you remember.”

Earlier in her evidence, Miss Copling told the jury after leaving her job at the care home, she was approached by the couple in a car, who drove her away from her home and “told her what to say to the police”.:

She said: “They thought I might tell the police everything and they told me not too.

“She told me to say Bev was working that morning, and she said she would give me a good reference. She didn’t like Bev.

“I was just agreeing with her, but I didn’t agree with her. She was paranoid, thinking people were following us.

“She said, ‘I hope you’ve not been recording me.’”