Mental health nurse jailed for abusing dementia patients including Second World War veteran

A mental health nurse is starting a jail term for abusing of dementia patients which included forcing medicine down one man’s throat and saying he wished another would “hurry up and die.”

Thursday, 9th January 2020, 9:35 pm
Updated Friday, 10th January 2020, 10:48 am
Alastair Quinn, of Waldridge Road, Chester-le Street, has been sentenced to 24 months for abusing patients.
Alastair Quinn, of Waldridge Road, Chester-le Street, has been sentenced to 24 months for abusing patients.

Dozens of witnesses joined forces to help bring cruel nurse Alastair Quinn, of Waldridge Road, Chester-le Street, to justice, with the 58-year-old now serving a two-year prison sentence.

Quinn denied the offences but last month a jury at Newcastle Crown Court found him guilty of eight charges of carer ill treatment/neglect of a person lacking capacity.

From 2012 to 2016, Quinn worked as a mental health nurse for Covent House care home in Birtley, where he was the nurse in charge of the 24/7 dementia care unit, caring for vulnerable and elderly residents.

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But while in charge, his treatment of patients started to alarm fellow employees who say they witnessed a range of disturbing incidents, with a Second World War veteran among his victims.

Witnesses say they saw Quinn purposely knock harmless elderly patients to the floor, unnecessarily restrain residents, mock them and one witness reports Quinn told them he wished a patient would “hurry up and die” as he lay on his death bed.

The daughter of one of his mistreated patients previously thought of Quinn as her friend, adding to the sense of betrayal.

The abuse he inflicted on her father, who had dementia and limited communication skills, included calling him cruel names to his face, shouting at him and forcing medication down his throat.

The abuse has left the man’s family devastated.

The daughter read a statement out in court and said: “Our family is absolutely disgusted and appalled by the things Alastair Quinn has done.

“I can’t bear to think about how frightened my dad would have been seeing Alastair every day, fearful of what he would do next, not understanding why.

“He may have been unable to tell us what happened to him but it is clear he would have been able to know what abuse he suffered at the time and how distressed he would have been and that will always haunt me.

“I want justice for our family. I want Alastair to go to prison. I want his soul to be tortured like mine is. I will never forgive him, ever.”

The officer in charge of the case, Detective Constable Karin McMorrow, said: “Alastair Quinn, as a mental health nurse, was duty-bound to protect the most vulnerable people but instead he abused his position by horrifically mistreating those in his care.

“That abuse has had long-term devastating effects on his vulnerable victims’ families, as evidenced by the powerful victim statements they read out in court.

“Quinn’s cowardly acts, abusing those who can’t speak up or defend themselves, have rightly earned him a place behind bars.

“While nothing will ever fully erase the pain caused, I hope this acts as a comfort to his victims’ families.

“I am full of praise to all the witnesses who came forward to help with this investigation.

“It’s clear that while in charge Quinn was a manipulative and deceitful nurse, often lying to protect himself or blaming others, and the bravery of all those who came forward should be commended.

“I would like to express my gratitude to the families of all these victims, who have no doubt suffered significantly with the emotional impact of this abuse to their loved ones, yet remained dignified and supportive throughout this investigation.

“Thanks also goes to the care home which has fully co-operated with this investigation.

“I hope Quinn’s sentence serves as a deterrent to others in a position of trust that if they abuse that trust or participate in any sort of criminal behaviour, then they will be caught and be brought before the courts.”

A spokeswoman for Covent House, where the abuse took place, added: “This has been a deeply upsetting situation for all involved and our thoughts are first and foremost with the families affected by Alastair Quinn’s actions.

“The welfare of residents is our utmost priority and we are deeply saddened that Mr Quin so completely betrayed the trust of the residents, his colleagues and the company.

“We carried out all the required checks and vetting procedures prior to hiring him and, like all our staff, he was subject to continuous appraisal and assessment until he left our company.”

They have thanked staff, past and present, for coming forward and assisting the police with the investigation.