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Nurse’s aide loses appeal against conviction

A former nurse’s aide convicted of senior abuse after she hurled a bottle at a senior suffering from dementia has lost an appeal against conviction.

While Rose Belboda accepted that she had thrown an air freshener bottle at a 72-year-old patient at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, she said she acted in self defence after the senior struck her and said he “should have juked out her eye”.

But Puisne Judge Shade Subair Williams said Belboda had lashed out in anger against the man, who suffered from Alzheimer’s, and called her conviction “unimpeachable”.

Mrs Justice Subair Williams said in a written judgment, dated July 22: “Ms Belboda attempted to obtain her own version of justice measured by an eye for an eye.

“Ultimately, the senior was a victim not only of his degenerative mental condition but also of Belboda, the very person who was assigned to assist in the provision of his care.

“As I see it, this is a classic example of the abusive treatment of seniors which Parliament intended to penalise and eliminate.”

The court heard that on November 20, 2018, Belboda was working as a nurse’s aide at KEMH where the victim was a patient on Cooper Ward suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

At around 6am, a nurse said she heard Belboda – who was in the senior’s room – make a “very strange” sound.

She went into the room and was told by Belboda that senior had hit her in her eye. The nurse noticed Belboda’s eye was red and advised her to go to the Emergency Department.

The nurse checked on another patient and then returned to the senior’s room, where she saw Belboda standing near the door with her head in her hands.

Asked what was wrong, Belboda said the senior had threatened her, and that she had thrown an air freshener bottle at him, which struck his face.

The nurse then saw that the senior was bleeding profusely from a cut above his left eye and had swelling below the eye.

Belboda told Magistrates’ Court during her trial that she was in pain and in shock when the senior shouted at her; “I wish I had dug your eye out”, which caused her to throw the bottle.

She said that while she was aware the senior had Alzheimer’s, and she had been trained on how to deal with patients, she believed the senior was lucid when he struck and threatened her.

Belboda testified that she believed the senior intended to gouge out her eyes and that she was fearful for her life.

She was found guilty of senior abuse in Magistrates’ Court, but she argued magistrate Craig Attridge did not properly consider the impact of the senior’s actions on her or the element of provocation.

But Mrs Justice Subair Williams found that Belboda’s response to the senior’s actions was “as unlawful as it was disproportionate to the provocation” in the circumstances.

The judge dismissed the appeal, and ordered that the matter return to Magistrates’ Court for Belboda to be sentenced.