Aged Care Worker Jailed For 'Vicious' Shoe Attack On Dementia Patient
A former aged care worker caught on hidden camera attacking a dementia patient with a shoe has been sentenced to a maximum eight months jail.
Prakash Paudyal beat 82-year-old David Nabulsi with his own shoe, and roughed him up while trying to change him at the Bupa aged care family at Seaforth, in Sydney's north, in August and September 2018.
The attacks were caught on a hidden camera which Nabulsi’s family installed behind a picture frame, after they noticed bruises on his body and changes in his behaviour.
In Manly Local Court, Magistrate Christopher Longley said the attacks were “disturbing” and “distressing”, and warranted a full time custodial sentence.
He punished Paudyal – who pleaded guilty to two charges of common assault -- with eight months jail, and set a non-parole period of four months.
The 36-year-old married father of a baby boy was taken into custody, although his lawyer has already signalled an intention to appeal the sentence.
Nabulsi’s daughter, Ayda Celine, welcomed the punishment but admitted she was shocked as she had feared Paudyal would be spared jail.
“I’m actually so overwhelmed that we finally got justice and we are finally standing up for the elderly,” she told 10 News First outside court.
“Australia isn’t going to put up with any violence or abuse and we’ve set a sort of mark now that you can’t get away with it.”
“There is just no excuse for violence, whether it’s with the elderly, young children or anybody.”
Earlier, Paudyal’s barrister Louis Katsinas told the court his client was “both appalled and disgusted by his own conduct”.
He partially blamed the attacks on the Nepalese migrant’s “challenging” workload and two jobs, which required him to put in 55-hour weeks.
Mr Katsinas tendered references which described Paudyal as “caring, kind and compassionate”.
He said at the time of the assaults, Paudyal had been taking steroids for a medical condition, which caused him irritability and anger.
He said his client was also in conflict with his wife and had family visiting from Nepal, which put him under “stress“ and financial strain.
The court heard Paudyal’s job with Bupa required him to change 16 elderly dementia patients per shift and that he was often required to work alone.
“He went one step too far by raising the shoe”, Mr Katsinas told the court.
“The assaults themselves aren’t gratuitous or violent… the offences weren’t pre-planned or premeditated”
But police prosecutor Sergeant Adrian Walsh told the court the “vicious” assault was “gratuitous, appalling, and inexcusable”.
In a statement, Bupa’s Chief Operating Officer Carolyn Cooper said the company was working to improve standards.
“When made aware of this incident, we worked with NSW Police and immediately dismissed Mr Paudyal,” she said.
“His actions do not reflect our values and the quality care we strive to provide to our residents. We have apologised to Mr Nabulsi and his family and continue support them.”
“We are taking immediate action to improve standards at Seaforth, including hiring a new General Manager, reviewing care plans for all residents and improving support for them, providing further extensive training for staff and enhancing the complaints and feedback process.”
A Royal Commission into Australia’s aged care sector was established last year and is due to begin hearings in Adelaide on February 11.
Celine urged other families who have relatives in aged care to stand up for their loved ones if they feared they were being mistreated.
“Do everything you can, follow your instincts and just go for it,” she said.
“Don’t be scared to stand up for your family members, your friends or anybody because they need you and they don’t have a voice. We are their voice.”
The court heard Paudyal had written a letter of apology to the court.
Celine said she had not received the apology, and not would not accept it when she does.