Carer guilty of slapping and punching man with Down’s syndrome outside Tesco

Andrew Driver was found guilty after a trial at North Somerset Courthouse.

Andrew Driver was found guilty after a trial at North Somerset Courthouse. - Credit: Archant

A Clevedon man who has Down’s syndrome was punched and slapped by a North Somerset carer when he would not get into a car.

Andrew Driver, aged 46, has been told he ‘will never work in care again’ after assaulting a client he was supposed to be looking after in December.

He denied assaulting 52-year-old David Booth, of Upton Cottage, but was convicted following a trial at North Somerset Courthouse on September 23.

Magistrates were told Driver worked for learning disability service Onetrue Step and took Mr Booth out three times a week on day trips.

Mr Booth – who is unable to speak – suffers from Down’s syndrome and was being taken out for the day by Driver when the incident occurred.

Driver stopped at Tesco in Clevedon, where he then went against Onetrue Step protocol by locking Mr Booth in the car while he went to check the bus timetable for his next client.

Mr Booth has a long-standing fear of cars and was only just getting used to travelling in them in the months leading up to the incident.

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When Driver returned to the car, he unlocked it which prompted Mr Booth to climb out.

Witness Linda Swaney told the court she was pulling into the car park when she saw the two men. She witnessed Driver slapping Mr Booth around the face and punching him in the chest multiple times.

She also said she heard Driver yelling ‘get in the car now’.

When Driver and Mr Booth returned to Upton Cottage, care home worker Susan Coombe told the court Driver had sweat on his brow and was ‘high on adrenaline’.

The home’s manager Joanne Keene said: “We have worked really hard to give over the evidence (prosecutors) needed and we are pleased it was a guilty verdict. He will never work in care again.”

Driver, of George Street in Weston, has been released on bail, and will be sentenced at North Somerset Courthouse next week.

Driver worked for Onetrue Step for two and a half years as a peer support worker and was suspended when the matter came to light.

The service has since been taken over by Selborne Care Ltd and its director Simon Bishop said the firm has a ‘zero tolerance policy towards any forms of abuse in connection with its services’.