Pensioner who filmed vulnerable adults in toilet committed ‘gross abuse of trust’

Robert Hoggarth who appeared at Teesside Crown Court on Wednesday, February 19
Robert Hoggarth who appeared at Teesside Crown Court on Wednesday, February 19

A JUDGE has condemned the actions of a disgraced carer who “took advantage” of vulnerable adults with severe learning disabilities for his own amusement.

Robert Hoggarth was slapped with a 12-month community order with supervision and told he must carry out 40-hours unpaid work after he created a humiliating video of four vulnerable men using the toilet at Warren Road Day Centre, in Hartlepool, where he worked.

The 68-year-old filmed the men in the toilet at the council-run centre before adding embarrassing computer-generated explosions to the footage in an act the judge deemed to be “a gross abuse of trust”.

Hoggarth, who had worked as a carer for 20 years, then showed a colleague the shameful video who was disgusted and reported him to the local authority before police were made aware of the incident.

Hoggarth, of Felixstowe Close, Hartlepool, 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, when he stood trial earlier this year. He returned to Teesside Crown Court for sentencing yesterday.

The Recorder of Middlesbrough, Judge Simon Bourne-Arton, took Hoggarth’s age and previous good character into account when imposing the community order, but said the pensioner needed punishing for his “disrespectful” actions.

Judge Bourne-Arton said: “For a number of years you have provided a caring service as part of your employment and that is something I have taken into account.

“But what you did in making that film and images was not just disrespectful, it was a complete and utter abuse of your trust.”

He added: “They trusted you to look after them properly and to show them the respect they deserve because they deserve respect and you did not show them that respect.

“Essentially what you did was to take advantage of them for your own amusement.

“You took those images to make fun of them.

“It was a gross abuse of trust and you are to be punished for that.”

No order for costs was made as the court heard that Hoggarth had paid almost £4,000 in his own legal fees.

At the time of the trial Hartlepool Borough Council said it had carried out all of the necessary investigations and had spoken to the victim’s families about Hoggarth, who is no longer working for the organisation.

Hoggarth terminated his employment with the council when the incident was investigated by Cleveland Police’s Vulnerability Unit and the local authority.