Sex assault: care worker is cleared

Alvin Bravo. Submitted.'11/03/11
Alvin Bravo. Submitted.'11/03/11

THE CARE worker who was accused of sexually assaulting an elderly resident in a Scarborough nursing home has been cleared of all charges.

Alvin Bravo, 39, of Caledonia Street, wept tears of relief in the dock as the jury delivered their verdict, bringing to a close a six-day trial at Leeds Crown Court.

It took little over 30 minutes for the jury to unanimously find Mr Bravo not guilty of two charges of sexual assault.

It means the nursing student and a fully qualified nurse in his home country of the Philippines, is now free to resume a career in care which spans more than a decade.

Several supporters of Mr Bravo in the public gallery also released audible sighs of relief as the verdict was announced.

He was alleged to have sexually assaulted a bed bound resident at a Scarborough nursing home twice last year after he entered her room alone.

The resident, who requires 24-hour care, had told staff at the home and police that Mr Bravo had assaulted her while changing her incontinence pad.

She had given evidence via a video link earlier in the trial, but became unresponsive during questioning from both prosecution and defence representatives.

Summing up the prosecution case earlier in the day yesterday, Patrick Palmer said to the jury: “In this case you have a stark choice.

“You have heard clear evidence from the complainant that this defendant came into her room and sexually assaulted her.

“We submit that you will be sure that what she has told you is the truth.”

However the 12-person jury ultimately rejected the woman’s claims.

Taryn Turner, representing Mr Bravo, had pointed out holes in the prosecution case against her client.

Mr Bravo entered the woman’s room alone, changed her incontinence pad and attempted to relieve her symptoms of constipation.

He entered the room, although he knew it was against protocol to do so alone, because he could find no other members of staff at the nursing home to accompany him.

No sexual assault took place she said.

Mrs Turner, defending, said her client had wrongly been accused of carrying out “despicable” and “wicked” acts.

She pointed out that Mr Bravo had maintained a consistent version of events throughout police interviews and subsequent court proceedings.

“The complainant told you she has been in pain ever since the alleged incident,” Mrs Turner said. “How does that fit with the doctor’s report that no injury was detected or that no other treatment has been received or requested?

“He went upstairs with the good intention of helping a lady who was in pain.

“It was his instinctive reaction to help.”

Mrs Turner also asked why Mr Bravo, who has no criminal record, would have filled in a form to say he had been in the woman’s room had he entered to sexually assault her.

The entry on the care sheet made by Mr Bravo said he helped the resident before giving her some juice.

“Why would he take the risk of sexually assaulting a woman who was not confused and could ring alarm bells?” she said. “It doesn’t add up.

“Yes, he went in there and he shouldn’t have done. But there simply isn’t evidence that supports either of the allegations that this lady has made.”

In summing up the case, Judge Paul Hoffman asked the jury to consider the possibility that the elderly woman, who was described by staff at the home as “a lovely lady” who was “compos mentis”, could have been mistaken about what happened.

“Allegations like this are capable of provoking strong emotions, but you must put them to one side” he said.

Mr Palmer has submitted that either the complainant or the defendant are lying. You should consider a third possibility – has the complainant made a mistake?”

After the verdict, Judge Hoffman discharged Mr Bravo from the dock and told him he was free to leave court.

The nursing home can not be named for legal reasons.

Mr Bravo declined to comment after the case.