Parents’ anger as cruelty case carer spared jail

Preston Crown Court

Preston Crown Court

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The parents of a boy with autism who was mistreated by a carer at a Ribble Valley residential unit have said they are appalled the woman has been spared jail.

Laura Hartley, 25, was convicted of child cruelty after Preston Crown Court heard she dragged the teenager down a corridor by his ankles to a bathroom.

It was the worst decision we have ever had to make, putting our son into residential care

Mum

The youngster was left with a mark to his back and a shocked co-worker told the court Hartley had told her: “You’ve just got to do whatever to get them in there.”

The carer was handed a nine month prison sentence suspended for two years after Judge Mark Brown heard she is expecting a baby and has pregnancy complications.

Speaking after the sentence, the boy’s dad, who can not be identified for legal reasons, said: “It’s disgusting. She should have gone to jail.”

The youngster’s tearful mum said: “It was the worst decision we have ever had to make, putting our son into residential care. We looked around three different places and chose this one because it was close to home and we would be able to visit him.

“He wasn’t coping at home - he couldn’t leave the house because it was too much for him to cope with.”

The boy’s dad added: “We thought he would be safe and happy there. It seemed like a really good place.”

On April 8 – just a month after the boy moved into the unit – he became upset after a visit from his parents.

His dad said: “He was happy when we left but when he wasn’t allowed to watch the DVD he got upset.”

Hartley, who was in charge of bathing the boy that evening, began leading him to the bathroom with a colleague, but when the lad dropped to the floor she took him by his ankles and dragged him. Her colleague was so shocked that she spoke to a colleague and gave a written statement to her manager the following day.

Hartley denied cruelty but was convicted following a trial. Judge Brown placed her her on a three month curfew to remain indoors at her home in Amberwood Drive, Blackburn, and ordered her to take part in a rehabilitation activity requirement.