The parents of a boy with autism who was mistreated by a carer at an Ribble Valley residential unit have said they are appalled the woman has been spared jail.
Laura Hartley, 25, was convicted of child cruelty after Preston Crown Court heard she dragged the teenager down a corridor by his ankles to a bathroom.
It was the worst decision we have ever had to make, putting our son into residential care
The youngster was left with a mark to his back and a shocked co-worker told the court Hartley had told her: “You’ve just got to do whatever to get them in there.”
The carer was handed a nine-month prison sentence suspended for two years, after Judge Mark Brown heard she was having complications with pregnancy.
Speaking after the sentence, the boy’s dad, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, said: “It’s disgusting. She should have gone to jail.”
The youngster’s tearful mum said: “It was the worst decision we have ever had to make, putting our son into residential care. We looked around three different places and chose this one because it was close to home.
“He wasn’t coping at home – he couldn’t leave the house because it was too much for him to cope with.”
The boy’s dad added: “We thought he would be safe and happy there. It seemed like a really good place, a place he would thrive.”
On April 8, just a month after the boy moved into the unit, he became upset after a visit from his parents.
His dad said: “We had taken him a DVD and he wanted to watch it. He was happy when we left but when he wasn’t allowed to watch the DVD he got upset.”
Hartley, who was in charge of bathing the boy that evening, led him to the bathroom with another colleague, but when the lad dropped to the floor she took him by his ankles and dragged him.
Her colleague was so shocked at what she had seen, she gave a written statement to her manager the following day.
The boy’s parents were told about the incident and the matter was reported to the police and social services.
Hartley, of Amberwood Drive, Blackburn, denied cruelty but was convicted following a trial.