Carer convicted of ill-treatment of vulnerable adults with learning difficulties at Norfolk care home


A 48-year-old carer has today, Friday, been convicted of the ill-treatment of two vulnerable adults.

Karen Gathergood of Old Fakenham Road, Foxley, was convicted by a jury at Norwich Crown Court following a week-long trial.

Gathergood, who worked at a care home in the Fakenham area, was found guilty of seven counts of ‘ill-treatment or neglect of a person who lacks capacity’.

The offences related to two victims. The first a woman aged in her 30s with severe learning difficulties and limited mobility. The second a man, again aged in his 30s, with severe learning difficulties, epilepsy and Cerebral Palsy.

The abuse took place on numerous occasions between June 2014 and February 2015 and included Gathergood slapping and pulling the woman’s hair and verbally abusing and forcing the man to eat.

In one instance Gathergood had been heard to say to the female victim “Well you pulled my hair, so I pulled yours”. On another occasion she was seen forcefully dragging the male victim out of a conservatory after he refused to eat “his greens”.

Gathergood was interviewed by officers from Norfolk Constabulary’s Adult Abuse Investigation Unit (AAIU) in March 2015 after the abuse was reported by a member of staff.

During interview she denied all allegations against both victims.

She was subsequently reported for the ill treatment of both victims under Section 44 of the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

Detective Constable Gemma Weeks, who led the investigation, said: ”This was a particularly emotive case as the victims were very vulnerable and completely at the mercy of their carer who used her position of trust to ill treat them, instead of care for them.

“The Adult Abuse Investigation Unit investigates all allegations of abuse against vulnerable adults. Such abuse can take many forms, financial, physical, sexual or even psychological and Norfolk Constabulary is dedicated to protecting victims and prosecuting offenders in such cases.”

Gathergood was bailed to return to Norwich Crown Court on Friday 9 September 2016 for sentencing.

Norfolk Constabulary’s Adult Abuse Investigation Unit (AAIU) was set up in 2001 and was the first of its kind in the UK. The AAIU investigates allegations of abuse against vulnerable adults. The abuse can be physical, financial, sexual or even emotional. The unit works closely with local partner agencies such as Social Services and health providers to investigate offences and safeguard adults from abuse.

If you, or someone you know is being abused, please call Norfolk County Council (Adult Social Services) on 0344 800 8020. You can report your concern anonymously but please give as much information as possible so it can be followed up.