A CARE home worker has been jailed for slapping a man with Down's syndrome and dragging him across the ground.

Sona Mertova, 47, was filmed abusing the man in the garden of his care home in June this year.

Peter Lucas, 36, was so upset by his treatment that he started repeatedly banging his own head against a metal railing.

Mertova pleaded guilty to ill-treatment and was jailed for six months following a hearing at Lewes Crown Court.

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

The Argus: Sona Mertova has been jailed for six months.Sona Mertova has been jailed for six months.

He said: "You behaved towards him with aggression and a complete lack of compassion, dignity and respect.

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

The court heard she was a team leader at the Sutton Court care home in Worthing where Peter had moved to after the death of his mother.

However, the Czech carer went into the garden and slapped him in the face as he sat in a swing seat.

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

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

In the video, shown in court, she could be seen dragging him away before he grasped a metal railing.

Peter smashed his own head on the railing in distress before Mertova slapped him again then dragged him into the care home.

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

The Argus: Sona MertovaSona Mertova

John 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."

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

"This was an appalling incident. She was concerned about shouting and banging coming from the garden.

"Her concern was to stop that shouting and banging before the victim harmed himself. Her goal was to take him inside out of harms way.

"She accepts she used far more force than was necessary or appropriate. 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."

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

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