Former worker at adult care home admits to stepping on resident's stomach, kicking him

SINGAPORE - A resident's stay at an adult care home turned into a nightmare when a staff member attacked him on two occasions last year.

The assaults left the victim - a 36-year-old man who has autism, mild intellectual disability and epilepsy - with a bruise on the back of his right thigh stretching from his hip.

The attacker, 28, pleaded guilty on Tuesday (Sept 21) to two charges of voluntarily causing hurt to the victim.

The man, the victim and the home cannot be named as there is a gag order protecting the victim's identity.

The assaults happened on Sept 9 last year at the home, where the man was employed as a care worker.

The Indian national, a work permit holder, had been taking care of the victim since 2019.

At about 7.25am that day, the man was with the victim when the latter grabbed his shirt collar.

The man then threw the resident to the ground, pinned him down by holding his hands and placing a knee on his stomach. The man then stood up and stepped on the resident's stomach once.

He later dragged the victim to the centre of the room they were in and kicked him five times on the outer right thigh.

Another staff member witnessed the incident, but the man told her not to get involved. She left and did not report the matter as she did not want to get into trouble, the court heard.

The man also "raised a finger" at another colleague, who was walking towards the room after the incident, according to court documents. The other worker then turned around and left.

The second assault occurred about 1½ hours later. The resident had touched the man's collar again but removed his hand shortly after, without retaliatory action from the accused.

After some time, the resident approached the accused again, reaching out to him. When purportedly told to sit on the floor, the victim did so, then stretched out his hand.

The worker grabbed the man's hand, dragged him along the floor and kicked him thrice.

A third co-worker walked in on the assault and told the man to stop his abuse. He replied that he could "handle the matter" and told her to leave.

But she stayed and subsequently took the victim out of the room. The colleague also did not report the incident.

The incidents were caught on the home's closed-circuit television cameras.

The victim's injury was discovered by his mother after he returned home on Sept 12 last year, and she contacted the home's staff.

But she was dissatisfied with their replies and wrote an e-mail to the chief executive officer of the organisation managing the home.

The man's offences were later discovered and the CEO lodged a police report.

During investigations, the CEO had explained that autistic patients would occasionally grab another person's shirt due to anxiety.

But he noted that the staff of the home had been trained to "disengage the resident without the use of (disproportionate) force" in such a scenario.

According to the man, the victim would sometimes grab on to his shirt collar when intending to pull him to the ground.

A report by the Institute of Mental Health stated that the victim had a "longstanding history of showing aggressive behaviour towards other people and property" since he was young.

He had been admitted to the institute on 22 separate occasions for behavioural problems that mainly stem from aggressive behaviour, added the report.

But it also stated that the victim's behaviour has been "relatively stable" since his admission to the home, with no aggression reported at his most recent interview in December last year.

The accused care worker is expected to be sentenced on Oct 28.

Offenders convicted of voluntarily causing hurt to others can be jailed for up to three years or fined up to $5,000, or both.

As the victim is a vulnerable person, the man is liable for up to twice the maximum punishment.

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