Two Nigerian carers have pleaded guilty after they left a severely autistic woman locked in a car alone while they went on a two-and-a-half hour shopping spree.
Sylvia Ezeorji, 47 and Veronica Howe, 52, were both care support workers for 58-year-old Claire McMullen, who suffers with autism, learning difficulties and does not speak.
According to Kentonline, she was found by police locked in a car in Chatham High Street on a hot day in July after concerned members of the public dialed 999 when they saw the vehicle rocking.Initially it was thought a dog may be trapped inside, but when officers investigated further, they saw Ms McMullen in the back.
She was wearing a big coat and sweating. Beside her was a packet of Wotsits and a bottle of water the carers had left for her, but Ms McMullen was not even capable of opening the items.
Howe, of Castle Road, Chatham, and Ezeorji, of Porters Avenue, Dagenham, have pleaded guilty to neglect.
They were told by the court their actions showed “total disregard for a person’s life”.
Magistrates heard Ms McMullen is deemed a very vulnerable adult.
She needs two-to-one care 24 hours a day as she is in danger of choking on food so she must be supervised at all times.
The court was told officers had to smash a window to free Ms McMullen because they were so concerned about her welfare.She was immediately given water and drank it thirstily before being taken to hospital by ambulance to be checked over.
Ezeorji and Howe returned to the vehicle at about 4pm, two-and-a-half hours after they had abandoned her inside.
Police were still on the scene and arrested the pair on suspicion of neglect.
Both were later charged and pleaded guilty at Medway Magistrates’ Court.
They returned to the same court for sentencing.The court was told the pair had admitted their actions fell below what is required of them and said they did go to check on her in the car, but left her there again and just forgot about the time.
Magistrates decided their sentencing powers were insufficient and sent the case to Maidstone Crown Court to be dealt with.
Chairman of the bench, Veenod Rama, said: “This is an extremely serious case and you showed a total disregard for a person’s life.
“There is no excuse, it was callous and selfish behaviour on a very vulnerable person.”
A date for Ezeorji and Howe’s sentencing has not yet been fixed.