Valentina Baghiu taunted a helpless elderly woman
Valentina Baghiu giggled while poking, taunting and grabbing at helpless Elizabeth Ann Mernock, 83, who had dementia. A court heard the heartless 23-year-old carer ignored her victim’s pleas to leave her alone and threatened her with a clenched fist. Baghiu even struck the pensioner’s legs with a broom, Liverpool Echo reports.
We must contend with the fact that her final weeks were full of misery, fear and trauma, which has inevitably led us to question whether it led to a deterioration of her condition and death.
Ms Mernock died within weeks of the torment at Birch Tree Manor, a care home in Port Sunlight, Merseyside.
But, despite seeing shocking videos of the abuse, a judge spared mum-of-one Baghiu an immediate jail spell.
Recorder David O’Mahoney, who could have jailed Baghiu for up to five years, handed her six months in prison, suspended for 18 months. He also ordered her to carry out 75 hours of unpaid work and made a 15-day Rehabilitation Activity Requirement.
Liverpool Crown Court heard Baghiu, who is pregnant with her second child, made some cruel remarks to Mrs Mernock in her native Romanian tongue but these were translated to English.
In the first clip she was revealed to say “f*** you, you old bat” and “hell will become of you, I’ll sweep you up, you’re going to get it”.
Baghiu added: “Watch out, you will see what a good plucking you’re going to get tonight.”
Mum-of-one Baghiu walked free from court
In the second clip, Baghiu laughed as her defenceless victim repeatedly begged “get off me”, “leave me alone” and “stop it”.
Baghiu told her “look at me” and when Mrs Mernock tried to get out of her chair to escape, grabbed her wrist and pulled her back.
The carer added: “Don’t scratch me or you will get f***ed up.”
In the footage she could be seen poking her fingers at the woman’s face, saying: “You would think I’m playing with the cat.”
And while waving her clenched fist in her face, she threatened: “You are going to get it tonight, do you understand?”
The evil carer admitted ill-treating or wilfully neglecting a person lacking capacity
The abuse happened on dates between May and November 2019, the same month the pensioner died of circumstances unrelated to the abuse.
But a concerned member of staff filmed the abuse and sent an email to Wirral Adult Social Care Services containing the two videos.
Speaking in court, the victim’s daughter Sarah Thomas said she “felt sick to the pit of my stomach” when she found out what police were investigating.
Her mum had complained about “people hitting, pushing and shouting at her on multiple occasions” but, because of her mum’s condition, Ms Thomas thought “it was probably just in her head”.
She added: “Then to find out what had happened was true, makes it feel incredibly upsetting.
“It begs the question, if I had believed her at the time, would she still be here today?”
The case was heard at Liverpool Crown Court
Ms Mernock was a retired social worker, who had spent her life looking after others.
Her daughter continued: “To then find out that when she was at her most vulnerable, she was taken advantage of, is sickening.
“My mother had one-to-one care, which mistakenly made the family presume she was very safe, well looked after, and most importantly, happy.
“Instead, now we must contend with the fact that her final weeks were full of misery, fear and trauma, which has inevitably led us to question whether it led to a deterioration of her condition and death.
“It is a question I will have to live with for the rest of my life.”
Jonathan Duffy, prosecuting, told the court Mrs Mernock died in November 2019, but added: “I make clear not in circumstances related to these offences.”
The lawyer said Baghiu once woke the victim either by “striking or poking her in her legs” with a brush she was using to sweep the floor.
Baghiu, of Warrington, Cheshire, said she provided financially for her five-year-old son in Romania and was expecting a second child in October.
The woman, who has no previous convictions, admitted ill-treating or wilfully neglecting a person lacking capacity.
But, after Baghiu walked free from court, Mrs Thomas and her brother were visibly distressed and angry and declined to comment.
Speaking afterwards about the “incredibly sad” case, Alan Currums, an associate prosecutor for CPS Mersey Cheshire, said: “The victim’s family had planned their mother’s funeral but were then told it had to be delayed because of what had emerged about Baghiu.
“They couldn’t talk to anyone about this as a criminal investigation was underway.
“They had thought their mother was safe but she had become the victim of a heartless and callous bully.”
He added: “Most carers, including the staff at this home, care for the residents compassionately and competently, despite the challenges presented by patients with dementia.
“The good work of the vast majority of carers should not be forgotten when the actions of people like Valentina Baghiu come to light. They are the bad apples in an area of care that is often the scene of great kindness and professionalism.”