26 Jun 2013

Community service for carer who assaulted disabled teen

4:29 pm on 26 June 2013

A Nelson care worker has been sentenced to 300 hours of community service for assaulting a severely disabled teenager in her care.

Linda Pearl Ericson, 63, was found guilty in May this year of three charges of assault.

She initially faced six charges of assaulting the then 15-year-old boy while he was at a care home she managed in Stoke.

The boy has autism, Down Syndrome and epilepsy and requires round-the-clock care.

The jury found her guilty of three of the charges, agreeing Ericson punched, kicked and scratched the boy, and pulled his hair on a number of occasions between 2009 and 2011.

Sentencing Ericson at the Nelson District Court on Wednesday, Judge Tony Zohrab said she displayed a grossly unacceptable breach of trust. The judge said he had every sympathy with the boy's parents.

Judge Zohrab also ordered Ericson, who says she is the victim of gossip that got out of hand, to pay reparations of $1500.

The boy's mother says her son is recovering well. "His health is good and so long as there's a team working around him, all on the same page, working together for (his) good, then he's fine."

His father says he's relieved the case is over. "Justice has been done and our family is quite satisfied with the ruling of the judge. And I think it sends a really clear message that you have to do a really good job and make sure your carers up to spec. It's just not good enough."