23rd May, 2019

Care home worker denies charges of ill-treatment or neglect over 87-year-old woman's injuries

A CARE home worker accused of ill-treating or neglecting a vulnerable pensioner has been allowed to have her passport back – so she can visit her mother in Romania.

Catalina Ferchiu appeared before magistrates in Leamington charged with the wilful ill-treatment or neglect of 87-year-old Rachel Smith between January 31 and February 3 last year.

Asked if she wished to indicate a plea, Ferchiu, 54, of St Marks Court, Pool Close, Rugby, replied: “Not guilty.”

The charge follows the admission to hospital of Ms Smith who was a resident at Overslade House Care Home in Overslade Lane, Rugby, where the court heard Ferchiu had worked for 13 years.

Prosecutor Narinder Gill said Ms Smith had been taken to hospital allegedly suffering from injuries, including bruising, which ‘could not be accounted for’ – and a possible fractured rib.

She had been a resident at the home since October 2016 after suffering a stroke, and suffered from a number of conditions which had left her paralysed down her right side and with limited movement in her right arm.

Her ability to communicate was very limited, but she was believed to have had ‘full mental capacity.’

Ms Smith died in hospital some three weeks later of sepsis and pneumonia, which was not said to have been related to her alleged injuries.

Miss Gill said it was ‘a very complex case,’ and submitted that it should be tried at Warwick Crown Court rather than in the magistrates’ court.

And Elaine Atkinson, defending, agreed, telling the magistrates: “I think it’s a case that ought not to be dealt with here. It ought to go before a jury for trial.”

So chairman of the magistrates Phillip Gough sent the case to the crown court, where a trial preparation hearing will take place on April 12.

Ferchiu had been on bail with conditions that she live at her home address, surrender her passport and not go to the care home or have contact with any prosecution witnesses.

But Ms Atkinson applied for the conditions to be altered and for Ferchiu to be allowed to have her passport back.

She explained that Ferchiu, who lives with her husband and two children, had been resident in the UK for 15 years.

But because of having to surrender her passport, she had not seen her mother, who ‘is not particularly well,’ in her home country of Romania for nearly 18 months.

“I am asking for her to have her passport returned and for the condition of residence to be lifted for a two-week period,” Ms Atkinson told the magistrates.

That was opposed by Miss Gill, and as the magistrates were about to give their decision, Ms Atkinson revealed that one of the people at court to support Ferchiu was willing to act as a surety in the sum of £10,000.

Following an adjournment for enquiries to be made into the suitability of that person to stand surety, and further submissions, Mr Gough ruled: “We think the passport can be returned.”

The magistrates removed the conditions that Ferchiu’s passport had to be surrendered and the condition of residence, and replaced it with a requirement for her supporter to stand surety.

And adjourning the case for Ferchiu to appear at the crown court, Mr Gough told her: “If you fail to surrender, you are likely to be committing an offence, and a warrant will be issued for your arrest.”

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