Man unwittingly broadcasts tirade against dementia patient
A carer unknowingly live-streamed himself swearing and threatening a frail elderly woman with severe dementia.
Mark Antony Clement, 47, pleaded guilty to ill treatment of a vulnerable adult in Masterton District Court last Wednesday.
Clement, who recently moved to Wairarapa from Whakatane, was a paid full-time carer over 18 months for an 80-year-old woman who was the mother of a friend.
Police prosecutor Sergeant Tom Andrews said the way Clement spoke to the victim was “absolutely appalling against someone who could not be more vulnerable, and was at his mercy”.
Judge Barbara Morris said the comments “belittled” the victim as a human being.
The victim was a church minister, kaumatua of her iwi, a mother, grandmother and great grandmother.
On September 12, at about 7.30am, Clement was at the victim’s Whakatane house where he also lived.
He was helping the woman get changed when he accidentally turned on the Facebook live-stream feature on his cell phone.
Although the phone was in his pocket, audio of the verbal abuse was broadcast live on the internet.
Clement was heard yelling, swearing, threatening and calling the victim derogatory names.
The victim was heard making whimpering noises.
Judge Morris said the recorded tirade was not just “a matter of seconds”, but lasted for almost five minutes.
“Given the nature of the abuse, that was a long time.”
The victim’s family listened to the live-stream of the abuse and then reported it to police.
Clement initially denied it was his voice on the broadcast and said his Facebook account had been hacked, but later admitted it was him.
He told police that he would yell at the victim knowing she could not hear him.
Mr Andrews said the offence was “disgusting” and avoidable.
“He could have easily picked up the telephone and asked for assistance – whether it be social services or 111, but he chose not to.”
Defence lawyer Susie Barnes said Clement was under stress due to the pressure of taking care of the victim in which he received no respite.
“He could have sought help but when people are under extreme emotional and physical pressure it is not easy to see the way out,” she said.
Judge Morris said what made the offence worse was that the victim was an 80-year-old woman who could not defend herself.
If Clement had not accidentally live-streamed the verbal abuse, it may not have been discovered.
Clement was sentenced to 3-1/2 months of community detention, and 100 hours of community work.
He had no previous convictions.
Verbal abuse was “calculated and deeply sinister”
The verbal abuse victim’s son, Anaru Barton, read aloud a victim impact statement to Clement and the court on Wednesday.
He told the court that Clement went to extreme lengths to deceive the family.
“You [Clement] attempted to conceal your actions by way of lies, deceptions and untruths so in large part the abuse could continue, presumably with low risk of detection and zero consequence,” Mr Barton said.
When the family approached Clement with concerns about previous verbal interactions, he “conned” the family into thinking everything was fine.
“You explained that this would not be repeated. We do not understand how or why you gave yourself the right to then carry out such actions which would harm our mother with such callousness and cruelty.”
“She deserved your respect, patience, understanding and authentic care, but what she got was unfounded and deeply disturbing.”
Mr Barton said his mother’s dementia and health had deteriorated as a result of the abuse.