A MAN with Down’s syndrome suffered “significant distress” when he was slapped and dragged across the ground by his care worker.

Sona Mertova pleaded guilty to ill-treatment of Peter Lucas at Sutton Court Nursing Home in Worthing.

The 47-year-old was caught on camera abusing Mr Lucas in the garden of his care home in June this year.

The 36-year-old was so upset by his treatment that he repeatedly banged his own head against a metal railing.

Police have released an image of Mertova was jailed for six months following a hearing at Lewes Crown Court last week.

Detective Constable Yvonne Daddow, of the Safeguarding Investigations Unit, said the incident has caused the victim and his family “significant distress”.

“Adults requiring care and support may not be able to protect themselves from abuse or neglect,” DC Daddow said.

"We have specialist trained officers and staff who work to protect adults at risk of abuse.

“If you are worried that you or someone you know is suffering adult or elder abuse or neglect, please contact us immediately.

"We will investigate and ensure the person gets the best course of action to meet their needs.”

The Argus: Sona Mertova was jailed for six months Sona Mertova was jailed for six months

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

The Czech carer was filmed slapping Peter in the face as he sat in a swing seat in the garden.

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

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

“You behaved towards him with aggression and a complete lack of compassion, dignity and respect,” he said.

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

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, which was shown in court, Mertova, of Western Place, Heene, Worthing, could be seen dragging him away before he grasped a metal railing.

The Argus: Man with Downs syndrome suffered ‘significant distress’ after being abused by his care worker Man with Downs syndrome suffered ‘significant distress’ after being abused by his care worker

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 his son at home.

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.”