Wirral care worker suffered spinal injury escaping schizophrenic sex attacker

Wirral Globe: Wirral care worker broke her spine in two places escaping schizophrenic sex attacker Wirral care worker broke her spine in two places escaping schizophrenic sex attacker

A JUDGE expressed concerns over a Wirral residential home where a young female care worker was left alone at night with residents.

Judge Alan Conrad raised the issue after Craig Cantwell, a schizophrenic with learning difficulties, was convicted of injuring the worker after making sexual advances.

The woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, had locked herself in a first-floor bathroom after he made sexual demands.

But when he started smashing through a plasterboard wall she jumped from the window, suffering a spinal injury.

Cantwell, 29, denied inflicting grievous bodily harm, affray and committing an offence with intent to commit a sexual offence, but was convicted after trial.

Remanding him in custody to enable pre-sentence and psychiatric reports to be prepared, Judge Conrad said when he returns he would be commenting on the way the home was run.

"There is evidence she should not have been put in the position she was," he said.

During his four-day trial at Liverpool Crown Court a jury heard the incident happened in the early hours of the morning when the women was on duty at the home in Birkenhead.

Cantwell, who had earlier been drinking with another resident, became agitated but she calmed him down and they played a board game. He claimed he had a headache and they went upstairs to the medication room for pain-killers.

But once there he locked the door behind them and became aggressive and she was unable to reach her mobile phone. He pushed her into a medicine cabinet and told her to go into the adjoining bathroom.

He made sexual demands and she was so scared eventually she locked herself in the bathroom, said Anya Horwood, prosecuting.

She had managed to take her phone with her but when she rang her boss there was no answer. Meanwhile Cantwell was shouting menacingly and said if she did not open the door he would kill her.

Unable to force the door open he began to smash a hole in the plasterboard wall by the handle and she decided to jump the 10ft to the ground below.

She broke two vertebrae in her spine in the fall and injured her heel, but managed to get to the road and shout for help.

She intercepted two milkmen out on their early morning rounds and they put her for safety in their van.

Cantwell, whose demeanour was threatening, then appeared in the road outside and approached them holding a metal pole.

When the milkmen told him he was not coming near her, he replied "Don't mess with me, I'm from Manchester."

One of the men, Edward Pike, stood in his way and Cantwell hit the back of the van and another car with the pole, snapping it in two.

He walked off but came back holding pieces of wood in both hands, alleged Anna Horwood, prosecuting.

Mr Pike walked towards him and Cantwell backed off. An ambulance and police arrived and the victim was taken to hospital where her injuries were discovered.

When police detained Cantwell following the 25-minute incident he said he assumed they were arresting him for trying to help the woman when she was having an asthma attack.

When interviewed, Cantwell, who has learning difficulties, said he had drunk two or three cans of lager and might have taken sleeping tablets.

He told the court that he had hit the plasterboard wall because the woman was having an asthma attack and said that earlier he had flicked her to the head accidentally and she grabbed him causing a scratch.

He said he had the metal pole and pieces of wood for protection and was acting in self-defence.

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