'Day centre manager ordered me to burn documents' — neglect trial told

'Day centre manager ordered me to burn documents' — neglect trial told

By Adele Forrest | 27/11/2020

'Day centre manager ordered me to burn documents' — neglect trial told
Barbara Sykes arriving at Sheffield Crown Court


A SUPPORT worker has told a court a day centre manager on trial for neglect ordered him to burn four bin bags full of documentation.

Ryan Eyre said while he had been destroying the RMBC documentation in his allotment, the council’s environmental health team had attended after a complaint about smoke.

Barbara Sykes (64) is on trial accused of neglecting ten clients, aged between 18 and 66, between 2008 and 2017, at the Reach Day Centre, based at the Elliott Centre on Badsley Moor Lane.

Witness Mr Eyre told the court yesterday that Sykes and her assistant manager, Neil Wooley, had told him to destroy the documentation.

Mr Eyre said: “They were shredding lots of things in the office and I used to run an allotment activity.

“I was asked if I could take some bin liners down and burn them in the burning bin to save time on shredding.”

Prosecutor Mr Tom Storey asked: “Did you agree?”

He replied: “Only after I had asked on several occasions if that was legal. I thought everything had to be archived.”

Mr Eyre said the documents had included contact sheets, old care plans and identification cards of people who had left Rotherham Council.

He claimed there had been “three or four” bin bags full of documents which he had burned during an allotment session with service users and another staff member.

He said the colleague had also asked Mr Wooley if destroying them was legal, to which the assistant manager had replied: “Yes”.

Mr Eyre added: “There were lots of things getting destroyed at that time, I was in no position to ask why, I just took it down and did it in the burning bin.”

The witness said he had only ever been asked once to burn documentation.

“I did it (the burning) over the course of one morning,” Mr Eyre said. “I had to stop because environmental health had been called from nearby houses and they came and asked me to stop because they had a complaint.

“I showed them my RMBC card and they said: ‘Right, once it’s burned down don’t burn anymore’.”

Mr Wooley replaced Julie Paul-Slack as assistant manager.

Paul-Slack (56), of Middle Lane, Clifton, is on trial for ill-treatment of a person lacking mental capacity and wilful neglect of a person lacking mental capacity.

Asked what it had been like working under Sykes and Paul-Slack, Mr Eyre said: “It was hard to tell what kind of mood management would be in from day-to-day, and it just tended to be quite a negative environment.”

Sykes’ approach to service users had been “unprofessional”, he said, and her behaviour had sometimes caused them to become anxious

Mr Eyre claimed he witnessed Sykes and Paul-Slack drag a service user across the floor and out of a fire exit door.

He also claims Sykes, of Church Street, Rawmarsh, shoved a service user who was prone to choking up against a table while he had been eating.

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