May 10, 2018

Aged care worker cleared of strangling charge over biscuit dispute

A Canberra aged care worker accused of “strangling” his co-worker when she accidentally over-ordered biscuits, has had his charges dismissed.

The incident occurred when a then 17-year-old staff member ordered biscuits without first checking stock levels.

When her 68-year-old co-worker, Lakshman Senanayake, discovered the mistake, he grabbed his younger colleague by the throat, and yelled “I could kill you”, applying an “eight-out-of-ten” level of force.

Mr Senanayake was charged with assault over the incident, but the charge has been dismissed in court.

In court, the victim alleged, “He grabbed me around the throat and said, ‘I could kill you’.” She said that Mr Senanayake had spoken down to her in the days prior to the incident, and said she wasn’t doing her job properly.

But Mr Senanayake said he had simply reminded the girl to check the biscuit supply before ordering more. He said their hands briefly touched when she signalled that she wanted him to go away.

Magistrate Robert Cook found several inconsistencies in the woman’s evidence, and criticised the police investigation.

Mr Cook said the woman was unable to recall the timing of the assault.

He noted that while police had noticed red marks on the girl’s neck when they attended the scene, photographs taken hours later failed to show show the marks.

Mr Cook said the police did not conduct adequate interviews with residents at the nursing home, which resulted in a lack of evidence.

He dismissed the charge.

While there is a growing awareness of conflict between staff and residents or families in aged care, conflict between aged care workers receives less attention.

Yet, with long hours and at times stressful conditions, it’s not surprising that sometimes tensions between staff can boil over. Even if in this case the charges have been dropped, incidents can and do occur.

Have you witnessed conflict between aged care staff? Let us know.

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