A FORMER nursing home worker has told of his “13 months of hell” after he was accused of physically abusing elderly patients in his care.
Ex-Rainford High pupil Sam Rigby, who walked free from court last week, told how he was “crushed” when he learned of the allegations levelled at him while working at the five-star Alexandra Court Nursing Home in Wigan.
The 26-year-old, who grew up in Rainford, said he was even labelled “scum” and threatened in the street on a night out in St Helens last April - on the day he had proposed to fiance Emma Meacham.
He said: “For the last 13 months I’ve felt like I’ve been waiting for results from the doctor. I was absolutely devastated when I was told what I had been accused of. I thought it was a joke - I was in disbelief.
“As a care worker that is the worst thing you could ever be accused of. My life was destroyed from that moment because mud sticks - whether you are guilty or not.
“It’s just been a total nightmare. I will never trust anyone in the way I used to ever again.”
Mr Rigby had been due to face a re-trial on three charges last week before prosecutors asked the judge to leave it on file.
A Liverpool Crown Court jury had already cleared him of abusing two men and two women in May.
Mr Rigby, who is taking his former bosses to an employment tribunal in October, is now calling for more protection for carers and a specialist independent body to be set up to investigate similar claims.
He added: “When I was sitting in the dock I just feared the worst. I didn’t even smile when I was told that I could leave.
“But it makes you realise how little protection carers have from accusations like these. If you work in care, particularly with vulnerable people who can’t speak up for themselves, it’s the easiest thing you could be accused of.
“I always maintained my innocence though and answered every question asked of me. I knew I had nothing to hide but it just shows how much heartache can be caused unnecessarily.
“Me and Emma even had to put our wedding plans on hold because we were living in limbo. We’re going to have to move away now to rebuild our lives. I don’t want to be looking over my shoulder forever.”