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Care home worker, 47, who slapped resident with Down's syndrome is jailed for six months

A care home worker who slapped and dragged a man with Down's syndrome she was supposed to be looking after has today been jailed.

Peter Lucas was so upset by his treatment he banged his own head against a metal railing five times before being dragged back inside.

Czech carer Sona Mertova broke down as she was sentenced to six months.

Lewes Crown Court heard the 47-year-old worked as a team leader at the care home in Worthing where Mr Lucas, 36, had moved to after the death of his mother Mary.

His Honour Judge Mark van der Zwart told Mertova through an interpreter she had broken the trust placed in her by the Lucas family, her employers and the wider society.

The incident was captured on video by a neighbour who started filming after hearing a scream coming from the care home garden.

Sona Mertova (pictured at an earlier hearing outside Worthing Magistrates Court) has been jailed after admitting she slapped and dragged a man with Down's syndrome while working

Sona Mertova went into the garden and slapped him in the face as Mr Lucas sat in a swing seat.

Mertova then dragged him off the chair, pulling the whole apparatus on top of them both.

In the video, shown in court, she drags him away before he grasps a metal railing.

Mr Lucas can be seen smashing his own head on the railing in distress before Mertova slaps him again and drags him into the care home.

In an emotional personal statement, his father John Lucas said the family were tormented by guilt at not being able to look after Peter at home.

Mr Lucas wrote: 'On behalf of my son, this is another devastating blow to our family having lost my wife in March this year.

'Peter has had to deal with this which has been even harder for him to express how sad he feels and felt at the time.

'Peter has difficulty understanding people and would not have been able to understand the carer if, as has been shown, her English is poor.

'How could that have helped her in her role caring for some of the most vulnerable?

'As a family we agreed to move Peter to Sutton Court to benefit from the care and kindness we were told would be shown.

'Tragically, this has not happened. Instead, he has had to suffer further.

'My wife's dying wish was to have Peter in a secure, happy and safe environment and this has broken our hearts.

'If my wife was still alive she would be devastated.

'Placing Peter in a home was a very difficult decision and we felt unable to meet his needs to enable him to lead as full a life as possible.

'We feel that we have failed him now and he would and always will be loved in our family.'

He thanked the neighbour who filmed the incident.

Mertova, 47, broke down in tears as she was told she would be handed a custodial sentence

'Who knows how many times this may have happened or how many times it may happen again?

'With people that care enough to come forward, we can do our best together to stop this happening,' Mr Lucas said.

The attack took place at the Sutton Court care home, Worthing on June 20 this year.

Mr Lucas was described in court as a vulnerable adult with Down's syndrome.

Describing the incident, prosecutor Charles Drinnan told the court: 'It is clear from the very start that the defendant approaches the victim very aggressively and immediately, with her right hand, slaps the victim in the head.

'It's a sustained incident with a number of pushes and grabs with substantial force.'

Judge van der Zwart told Mertova: 'Common sense and decency suggests there were other ways of managing this situation.

'You behaved towards him with aggression and a complete lack of compassion, dignity and respect.

A judge at Lewes Crown Court told Mertova she acted with a complete lack of compassion

'This was a relatively sustained incident. It was not a momentary loss of control.

'Those who breach that trust with acts of aggression and violence must expect immediate prison sentences,' the judge said.

David Bathurst, for Mrs Mertova, said she bitterly regrets what she did after working long hours in the care home.

'This was an appalling incident,' Mr Bathurst said. 

'Her judgement was clouded by the long shifts she was working.

'She accepts she used excessive force in trying to ensure the victim did not cause harm to himself.

'It is tragic that one moment of madness has such devastating consequences,' Mr Bathurst said.

Mertova pleaded guilty to ill-treatment by a care worker at an earlier hearing.

She will spend half of her sentence in prison before being released on a one year licence.