A CARER from Burnley cleared of placing an incontinence bag over the head of a dementia sufferer as she sat on the toilet has spoken of her 16-month ‘living nightmare’.

Jurors at the town’s crown court took just over half an hour to acquit Susan Larkin of ill-treating Celia Handley at the Peel Gardens home in Colne. 

She had insisted that the allegation had been concocted by colleagues after she had stolen some sunglasses at the home and management had taken no action.

Defence barrister Philip Holden, in his closing speech, said that it was difficult for Mrs Larkin to refute the claim as the alleged incident had only been witnessed by one other care worker, Sahra Suleman.

He told the jury that it took Sahra nearly a fortnight to report her concerns, with the help of co-worker Wendy Davis, to management.

Mr Holden said Sahra’s sister, Sumara, who also works at the home, claimed she only heard of the allegation when it was raised with senior staff.

“It is nonsense to suggest that the two sisters would not have talked about something like that,” he added.

The court heard that Mrs Davis had also been ‘angry’ over the theft of the sunglasses, feeling she had been unfairly placed under suspicion, and had confronted Mrs Larkin about the matter.

Mr Holden said the evidence of care home manager, Malcolm Rowley, who said that he was surprised the alleged incident involving the bag had not been reported sooner, was significant.

Mrs Larkin, 35, of Bouldsworth Street, Burnley, who was found not guilty after a four-day hearing, had admitted a theft charge in relation to the sunglasses and will be sentenced at Preston Crown Court on September 19.

Speaking after the case, Mrs Larkin, who had been carer for more than 20 years, said: “I am just so relieved it’s over. It has been a living nightmare for 16 months.”

She was supported throughout her court ordeal by husband Anthony and her extended family.