A CARER filmed vulnerable adults with severe learning disabilities using the toilet as part of a degrading prank which he then showed off to a workmate.
Four men who used the Warren Road Day Care centre, in Hartlepool, were humiliated in the footage, which had embarrassing computer-generated explosions and rockets added to it via a phone application.
Robert Hoggarth, or Bob as he is also known, then laughed as he showed the shameful videos to a colleague.
But she in turn reported him to their superiors at the Hartlepool Borough Council-run centre and police were also alerted.
Yesterday the 68-year-old, who has been a carer for around 20 years, was found guilty of ill-treating four vulnerable adults after a crown court trial.
He must now return to court to learn his fate although a jail term has been ruled out.
A jury of seven women and five men took one hour and 40 minutes to return unanimous guilty verdicts against him following his two-day trial.
The 68-year-old was found guilty of six offences of ill treatment of a person who lacks capacity under Section 44 of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 between August 1, 2012 and September 30, 2012.
The court was read a transcript of Hoggarth’s police interview during which he admitted filming the men, who all have severe learning difficulties, saying that he was just trying out the new “app”.
Christine Egerton, prosecuting, said: “In police interview he said ‘it was a stupid thing to do. I know that now but you know it’s just one of them apps you get and I tried it out.
‘I was just trying it out there was nothing else intended’.”
Hoggarth made the six videos while the centre users were either at the urinal or sitting on the toilet before showing them to workmate Emma Everett, laughing and saying: “This is confidential by the way.”
Ms Everett told the trial: “He was being filmed slowly approaching the urinal from the right hand side.
“He looked unaware that he was being filmed. At seeing this I felt uncomfortable so stepped back at which Bob said ‘no wait, wait for it’.
“All of a sudden from the left hand side of the screen I saw two blasts, flames in an orange/red colour come across the screen and go narrow as if going up [the man’s] backside.
“The app made a noise like a rocket sound.
“I was uncomfortable because the footage was in the bathroom and I didn’t think it was right.”
Defending, David Comb told jurors: “It was stupid, it was immature, it was in bad taste, it was wrong. This wasn’t a malicious campaign against these people. It was a serious error of judgement.”
The Recorder of Middlesbrough, Judge Simon Bourne-Arton, adjourned sentencing Hoggarth, of Felixstowe Close, Hartlepool, until the Probation Service has carried out a pre-sentence report.
He was released on bail until February 19.
A council spokesman said it had carried out all necessary investigations and had spoken to the victim’s families about Hoggarth, who was no longer working for the organisation.
He said: “Our child and adult services department was first notified of an allegation involving former staff member Robert Hoggarth in August 2012.
“The allegation was investigated under Local Adult Safeguarding policies and an internal investigation highlighted concerns.
“These concerns were investigated jointly by Cleveland Police’s Vulnerability Unit and the council. The matter was also reported to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
“Mr Hoggarth subsequently terminated his employment with the council.
“The council takes all safeguarding matters very seriously and its primary concern throughout this matter was to act in the best interests of the vulnerable adults involved.
“Council officers also met and appraised family members affected by the allegation.”