A DAY care centre manager who mistreated disabled clients and bullied her staff has been jailed for six months.
Barbara Sykes was sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court today – three months on from being found guilty by a jury of neglect.
Sykes (64, above), of Church Street, Rawmarsh, was convicted of five counts of ill-treatment of a person by a care worker, while her deputy manager, Julie Paul-Slack (57), of Middle Lane, Clifton, was convicted of one count of wilful neglect.
Paul-Slack (below) was jailed today for four months.
Both defendants will serve half their sentences in prison before being released on licence.
They neglected clients while Sykes was manager of Reach Day Centre between 2008 and 2017.
The centre, based at the Elliott Centre on Badsley Moor Lane, is operated by Rotherham Council and provides therapeutic activities and care for adults with learning difficulties and behavioural issues.
Sykes was said by the prosecution to have bullied and belittled her staff and punished clients by putting them in the garden or by denying them food.
In one incident, Judge Michael Slater said, she “relentlessly dragged” a vulnerable woman with cerebral palsy and severe learning disabilities along a corridor and out through a fire door as horrified colleagues looked on.
Judge Slater said she was guilty of a “gross abuse of trust”.
Paul-Slack, who failed to act on the incident and refer it for investigation, had committed a “gross dereliction of duty”, the judge said.
Sykes was jailed for six months in relation to the “dragging” incident and a month each for the remaining four counts, which were ordered to run concurrent.
The court heard the offences were committed by Sykes “under pressure regarding staffing levels and the issue of potential reorganisation and cutbacks”.
The judge praised staff at the Elliott Centre for their “invaluable role in society”, working with vulnerable people.