South West Wales

Jail for carer Marie Baltazar who tied man's chair to table

Marie Baltazar Image copyright South Wales Police

A carer who "tethered" a man with Down's Syndrome for four hours by tying his chair to a table in order to make her shift easier has been jailed.

Marie Baltazar, from Llanelli, was secretly filmed by a member of staff at St James Care Home in Swansea.

The 36-year-old was also caught banging a metal pan next to the sleeping man before poking him with a wooden spoon.

Baltazar pleaded guilty at Swansea Crown Court to causing ill-treatment and was jailed for 20 weeks.

Robin Rouch, prosecuting, said the cruel treatment was not done to torment the victim, but to make Balatzar's life easier.

"The complainant suffers with Down's Syndrome and lacks mental capacity," he added.

"It would be right to say that he was restless and wanders.

"And in order to keep him on his chair the defendant would tie a small table to his chair to effectively stop him wandering off."

Mr Rouch said on one occasion, after returning from a visit to a day centre, the complainant was trapped between 17:00 and 21:00.

He added: "Mr Templeton could not freely go to the toilet or get up. This took place routinely."

The offences came to light thanks to the home's cleaner, who covertly filmed the neglect in November 2015.

Baltazar claimed she had the victim's interests at heart - but had gone about things the wrong way.

However, Judge Paul Thomas QC said the defendant had treated Mr Templeton with no dignity.

He said: "He was tethered like an animal for hours at a time.

"And when he needed to sleep you kept him awake by banging metal objects next to his head.

"Mr Templeton was in the early onset of dementia. He must have found this highly distressing, bewildering."

The court heard that the home - where the defendant's husband Ashley Bowen was the manager of - closed in March 2016 following an inspection by Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales.

Speaking after the sentencing, South Wales Police praised the whistle-blower who came forward.

"This case could not have been brought about without the commendable decision of a staff member to speak out about abuse being perpetrated within the care home," said Det Sgt Christopher Williams.

"The defendant's actions were both cruel and demeaning, carried out against a disabled victim with learning difficulties, who could not speak out for himself.

"The sentence reflects that the abuse of our most vulnerable in society cannot be tolerated, and any reports of abuse will be acted upon positively by South Wales Police and our partners."