A care worker was jailed for 20 months today (Wednesday, December 23) after being caught on film abusing the totally vulnerable teenage girl she was supposed be looking after.
The 15-year-old tetraplegic from St Albans, who needs 24-hour care, was treated like a “rag doll” by Michelle Cave, her carer of 10 years.
Prosecutor Martin Mulgrew said that Cave, from London Colney, Herts, had been “burning the candle at both ends”, working at the girl’s home at night and acting as a carer for others in the day.
Cave, 48, was caught when the victim’s mother woke and saw, on a monitor, her swearing and manhandling her daughter.
In a victim statement read to the court the mother said Cave had spent the extra money she was earning on a new car and a £6,000 tummy tuck.
She said: “To have an employee I trusted to abuse her to the highest degree is disgraceful. The abuse left her (the victim) confused and scared. I cannot rid myself of the image of Michelle pulling her hair. She pulled and pushed her like a rag doll.”
“I totally trusted Michelle – she worked for me for 10 years. My daughter could not tell me she was being abused.”
Cave of High Street, London Colney, appeared for sentence having pleaded guilty to the ill treatment and wilful neglect of the 15-year-old girl between November 25 and November 27 last year (2019). She had no previous convictions.
Mr Mulgrew said Cave began a night shift at 10am on November 25 last year. At 3.30 in the morning the mother heard her daughter coughing and looked at the live-stream monitor in her bedroom.
He said: “She saw the defendant take her head and shake it three times saying: ‘F….. shut up. She pulled her ponytail and said ‘F….. go to sleep. She pulled her in a rough manner.”
At 5.26 in the morning the mother heard her daughter breathing heavily again and recorded what she could see on the monitor on her mobile phone.
In the six-minute recording Cave was seen to pull the duvet off her, take her by the hair and arm and move her head in a forceful manner. She slapped her right arm and uttered an expletive when she examined her nappy. Cave continued to swear and manhandle the distressed teenager.
The father was called. Cave initially denied doing anything wrong, but when confronted with the footage apologised and left. She sent the mother an apologetic email the next day.
Defending, Christopher Harding said: “She worked for 10 years for family and knew them longer than that. I am making a full and unreserved apology on her behalf for her behaviour on that evening.
“She is deeply sorry. In doing what she did she destroyed the trust and relationship.”
He said she had no previous convictions or cautions, but by having two jobs had allowed the situation to arrive where she was not fit to work that night. He said Cave was a married woman who had suffered a number of personal tragedies. She was now working as a cleaner.
Jailing her, Judge Caroline Wigin said: “At the time you were working the night shift and unbeknownst to her mother you were working day shifts as a carer.
“I have no doubt she (the victim), despite her difficulties in communicating, experiences pain, anxiety and stress.
“What you did on that night may well affect her for the rest of her life.
“Such an egregious breach of trust, and where the consequences for the child and family have been so utterly devastating, an immediate sentence of custody must be imposed.”
The judge banned Cave from working as a carer.