Nursing assistant ‘saw colleague pour liquid into dying woman’s mouth’

Sianise Russell claimed Calum Knox put a bowl into the mouth of Susan Reid, who was wearing an oxygen mask.

Nursing assistant ‘saw colleague pour liquid into dying woman’s mouth’ iStock

A nursing assistant told a jury she witnessed a colleague pouring liquid in the mouth of a dying old woman.

Sianise Russell, 27, claimed Calum Knox, 30, put a bowl into the mouth of Susan Reid, 73, at Ward 4D in Crosshouse Hospital near Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, on July 18, 2018.

The witness stated she was “shocked” to discover Knox perform the task on Susan, who was wearing an oxygen mask and receiving comfort treatment.

Knox is accused at the High Court in Paisley of attempting to kill Susan and 81-year-old patient, Ann Reid.

Prosecutors claim he exposed each to the “risk of aspiration”. 

It is alleged he placed Ann on her back and syringed liquid into her mouth.

He is also said to have removed Susan’s oxygen mask five days later and poured liquid into her mouth.

The indictment states both women have since died. 

Knox, of Ayr, faces a separate charge of neglecting each of the women and three other elderly patients.

It is claimed that being a care worker, he failed in a number of aspects, including leaving the ward for “excessive periods of time” as well as falsifying records and lying to senior staff in respect of his care of patients.

In evidence, Ms Russell told the court that she and colleague Mary Bolan had been tasked with providing care for Susan who was unable to eat or drink and was wearing an oxygen mask.

The witness described Susan as being “very ill”, “frail” and agreed with prosecutor Euan Cameron that she was “expected to die.”

Ms Russell claimed Ms Bolan gave oral care by using water from a bowl to swab around the patient’s mouth.

The witness claimed this was to be done every two hours and logged on a sheet as having taken place at 2pm.

Mr Cameron suggested to Ms Russell that an “incident” occurred at 3.20pm.

She claimed she was told by staff nurse Grace Cairns to “keep an eye” on assistant nurse Knox that afternoon.

Ms Russell alleged that she saw Knox enter Susan’s room which she remarked as “weird.”

She stated the door was shut and the curtain covering windows on the door was pulled down to the floor.

Ms Russell earlier claimed it was not common practice for intimate care procedures.

Ms Russell stated she looked through a small gap in the door to see Knox beside Susan who was lying at an angle that the witness alleged she hadn’t been left in.

Mr Cameron asked what Knox was doing.

Ms Russell replied: “Pouring the bowl into Susan’s mouth.”

Mr Cameron responded: “How near was the bowl to her lips?”

Ms Russell said: “At her lips.”

The witness then claimed the bowl was in a “tilted” position.

Mr Cameron asked: “Could you see what Knox was doing?”

Ms Russell said: “He was pouring it in.”

Mr Cameron then asked how the witness felt about what she had seen and she replied: “Shocked.”

The witness claimed Knox “jilted” and repeatedly said “ehm” when she went into the room.

She stated she ordered Knox to put Susan’s mask on as Ms Cairns also entered and told him to put her bed up.

Ms Russell alleged Susan went red, made a loud noise and was “choking.”

She stated Knox was told to leave the room after saying: “I was doing oral care, she wasn’t like that two minutes ago.”

The witness claimed it took five minutes before Susan returned to “normality” and she was told to report the matter to senior management.

Ms Russell claimed Knox “seemed fine” as the day went on and never spoke about the incident again.

She stated Knox was sent home from work the following day. 

Lorenzo Alonzi, defending, asked Ms Russell if she was aware that people on the ward disliked Knox.

The witness replied: “No.”

The lawyer then asked if she knew that Ms Cairns did not like Knox.

She again responded: “No.”

Mr Alonsi suggested there were people on the ward that thought Knox was going “above and beyond” as well as “stepping on toes” which Ms Russell claimed was not done to her but agreed there were complaints about the way he worked. 

Mr Alonsi said: “The reality of what happened is that you got the wrong end of the stick, went charging in there and made a scene out of nothing, is that right?”

Miss Russell replied: “No.”

Knox faces seven further charges of assaulting pensioners.

He allegedly attacked an 81-year-old woman at Crosshouse by poking her in the ribs.

The other assaults are said to have occurred at Windyhall Nursing Home, in Ayr.

The pensioners – who have all since passed away – were aged between 86 and 95 at the time.

The claims include striking one man on the head, causing another to fall to the floor and spraying water in the face of a woman.

The trial continues before judge Fiona Tait.

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