Page last updated at 12:40 GMT, Tuesday, 13 October 2009 13:40 UK

Nurse force fed medicine to OAPs

Penelope Webber
Penelope Webber had worked at Whitchurch Hospital since 1981

A nurse who force-fed medicine to two elderly patients has been convicted of two counts of ill treatment and one of neglect.

Penelope Webber, 52, wrestled one patient and knelt on another's chest at Whitchurch Hospital, Cardiff, a jury was told.

She said she had never assaulted a patient in her 20-year career.

Webber, of Aberdare, Rhondda Cynon Taf, who had denied the charges at Cardiff Crown Court, will be sentenced later.

Judge Stephen Hopkins said the evidence was most compelling and he agreed with the jury's verdict.

He also told the jury that one of the witnesses had said in their statement that the defendant herself had suffered from a mental health illness for some years.

That had not been disclosed to the jury during the trial and he said he would ask for more information about that because she was working in such a stressful job at the time.

Webber left court declining to comment. Sentencing will take place on 5 November.

Allegations first surfaced in January 2009 when nursing assistant Ross Morgan heard a commotion on a ward for which Webber was responsible, the court heard.

Mr Morgan told the jury he saw an elderly patient, Kenneth Hollyman, leaving the room with a bleeding lip and skin tears on his elbow.

'Broken tablets'

The court heard that when Mr Morgan asked what had happened to the patient, Webber replied: "He put up a good wrestle but I was too strong for him."

Mr Morgan later heard another commotion from 87-year-old patient Peter Sadler's room and saw Webber leaning with one knee on his chest and cream liquid all over his head and broken tablets in his hair.

Whitchurch Hospital
The hospital is run by the largest NHS trust in Wales

When he asked what she was doing, Mr Morgan said Webber replied: "He had refused to take his medication".

When she gave evidence, Webber said she had no memory of Mr Sadler.

She said she did sometimes put one knee on a bed because she was short, at 5ft 1.5in (1.56m).

But she denied ever having knelt on or assaulted a patient, and said she had never forced anyone to take medicine.

'Incident report'

Webber admitted giving a tablet to Mr Hollyman, 87, and said she had noticed blood coming from his mouth.

But when she had tried to examine him, he had become aggressive, pummelling and pushing her.

She said she had meant to examine his injury more closely before writing an incident report but by morning it had slipped her mind.

She also forgot to mention it during the handover at the end of her shift, she said.

When it was suggested by prosecuting barrister Suzanne Thomas that she had not recorded the injury because she had caused it, Webber said she had not, and it had just gone out of her mind.

She also denied telling Mr Morgan: "He put up a good wrestle, but he wasn't strong enough for me."

Webber had been a staff nurse at Whitchurch Hospital since 1981, where she nursed elderly, mentally ill patients.

She was suspended by Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust following the allegations.

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