Nursing assistant assaulted elderly patients in hospital

Calum Knox attacked Anne Reid and Agnes Ferguson at Crosshouse Hospital in Ayrshire in 2018.

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A nursing assistant has been convicted of assaulting two elderly patients.

Calum Knox attacked Ann Reid and Agnes Ferguson – both 81 – at ward 4D in Crosshouse Hospital, Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, between May and July 2018.

The 31-year-old forcibly syringed liquid in the mouth of Alzheimer’s sufferer Ann who coughed and choked as a result.

He had earlier repeatedly poked the ribs of Agnes and even asked if it was sore as she screamed in agony.

Knox was found guilty of assaulting the two women, who have since passed on, following a trial at the High Court in Paisley.

The charge states that Knox, of Ayr, exposed Ann to risk of aspiration.

Knox initially faced an attempted murder charge against Ann which was deleted by the jury following their verdict.

He was also found not proven for a separate attempted murder charge against Susan Reid, 73, at the hospital in July 18, 2018.

The court heard Knox was not allowed to work alone in the period before his suspension in July 2018.

Knox had been on the police’s radar after allegations were made that he poured water from a bowl into Susan’s mouth when she was unable to eat or drink.

A further two incidents were reported which were later investigated.

Knox was found to have syringed liquid in the mouth of Ann – a patient with mouth pain and learning difficulties – on July 13, 2018.

In his closing speech to the jury, prosecutor Euan Cameron said: “You can conclude he did this while she was on her back (while in bed) against her will.

“The witness said Knox was sitting down leaning over Ann and the cup in his hand matched the liquid on her pillow.

“The witness claimed she was told that he was trying to give her a drink.”

Ann was heard to be coughing and choking by the witness.

She had not eaten or drank in the five days leading up to the incident and was being fed by a drip.

Ann had refused to eat or drink, despite being able and encouraged to by staff.

Mr Cameron said: “All nursing assistants are told patients should not be given liquids while on their back due to risk of aspiration.

“He must have been aware of these dangers.

“He was aware of the clear danger and intended to harm her.”

Knox was also found to have attacked Agnes at the hospital on an earlier occasion between May and July, 2018.

Mr Cameron said: “The prosecution say Agnes was elderly and frail.

“During her time in hospital, she had physical bruising to her which would have been apparent to Knox.

“It must have been apparent to Knox that hurting her ribs would have caused her significant pain.

“Knox continued to poke or prod her ribs when it was clear it was causing her pain.

“The staff nurse witness said he pressed against her ribs and stomach area and asked if it was sore.

“She remembered that the patient recoiled in pain and squealed.”

Lorenzi Alonzi, defending, asked judge Fiona Tait to sentence Knox after the verdict.

He said: “This significant indictment has been hanging over his head for a long time and has suffered considerable stress from the charges he was acquitted of.

“He no longer is in that employment and is not going to work in that field again.”

The judge refused Mr Alonzi’s request and deferred sentencing pending until next month.

She said: “This is an assault on two elderly patients at hospital, I think the court is entitled to background information.

“Having regard to the nature of the charges you were convicted and particular where this took place in hospital, I will adjourn for background reports.”

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