A cruel care worker heartlessly giggled while she taunted a helpless elderly woman in a care home.

Shocking video footage was played to a judge today (Wednesday, April 7) showing Valentina Baghiu threatening her with her clenched fist, forcibly pulling her back into a chair and ignoring the woman’s desperate repeated pleas to leave her alone.

While wriggling her fingers in the pensioner’s face she even goaded her, saying, “You would think I’m playing with the cat.”

Her callous behaviour was secretly filmed on two occasions on a mobile phone by an appalled colleague and after they were passed to the police an investigation began.

Some of the callous remarks made by Baghiu, a 24-year-old Romanian to the victim, Elizabeth Mernock, were in her native tongue but the prosecution had them translated into English.

Liverpool Crown Court heard today that the translations revealed comments including: “F…k you, you old bat” and “hell will become of you, I’ll sweep you up, you are going to get it” and “watch out, see what a good plucking you are going to get tonight.”

Heartbreakingly Mrs Mernock’s daughter, Sarah Thomas, told in an impact statement how she “felt sick to the pit of my stomach” when she found out what police were investigating.

The videos were filmed on two unspecified dates between May and November 2019 - the month the 83-year-old dementia sufferer died - and Mrs Thomas said in her impact statement how just weeks before her mum had complained about “people hitting, pushing and shouting at her on multiple occasions.”

Her mother had been visibly upset when talking about this but after talking to staff they thought because of her condition it “was probably just in her head. Then to find out what had happened was true makes it feel incredibly upsetting. It begs the question if I had believed her at the time would she still be here today.”

Wirral Globe: Valentina Baghiu outside Liverpool Crown CourtValentina Baghiu outside Liverpool Crown Court

Mrs Thomas, who was still struggling to come to terms with her husband’s sudden death earlier in the year at the time and death of her father-in-law, said that her mum had been a social worker who spent her life looking after vulnerable people.

“To find out when she was at her most vulnerable she was taken advantage off is sickening.”

She concluded how the family had presumed she was “well looked after and most importantly happy. Instead we now must contend with the fact that her final weeks were full of misery, fear and trauma which has inevitably led us to question whether it led to a deterioration of her condition and death.”

Magistrates had sent the case to the crown court as they felt their sentencing powers were inadequate as could only impose six months imprisonment but Recorder David O’Mahony, who could have jailed her for up to five years, let Baghiu walk free after imposing a six month suspended prison sentence.

Mrs Thomas and her brother were visibly distressed and angry at the outcome but declined to comment outside court.

Jonathan Duffy, prosecuting, had told the court that Mrs Mernock, known as Ann, had been resident at the Birch Tree Manor, Port Sunlight, Wirral. Baghiu, now of Warren Road, Warrington, Cheshire, pleaded guilty to to ill treating or wilfully neglecting a person lacking capacity.

“In essence the defendant ill treated Mrs Mernock by treating her in an unkind way, in some cases in a threatening and demeaning way, she poked her, was seen to grab at her wrist on occasion and to treat her roughly and in a way which constitutes abuse.”

He said that the incidents took place in a public area of the home, with the first one happening while Baghiu, a care assistant, was brushing the floor with a broom which she used to poke or hit her on the legs and made offensive remarks.

In the second clip Baghiu was heard giggling and telling her “look at me” but the victim kept begging her to leave her alone. When she tried to get out of her chair to escape her taunting Baghiu forcibly grabbed her wrist and pulled her back.

Mr Duffy said that one translation of a comment made by Baghiu was said to be either, “I’ll mess you up like nothing else” or “I'll give you a few slaps over the head.”

She also told the pensioner, “Don’t scratch me or you will get f***** up.”

In the footage she could be seen poking her fingers at the woman’s face saying, “You would think I’m playing with the cat.”

And while waving her clenched fist in her face, said, “You are going to get it tonight, do you understand.”

Baghiu, formerly of Borough Road, Tranmere, pleaded guilty to ill treating or wilfully neglecting Mrs Mernock while working as a care worker at Birch Tree Manor, Port Sunlight, between May 20 and November 21, 2019.

It came to light in December 2019 when Wirral Adult Social Care Services received an email containing two video clips saying it was from the home and suggesting a carer there should not be working with vulnerable people.

When the deputy manager was asked to view the footage she identified Baghiu as the person shown in the videos. The victim was on 24 hour one to one care as she was at high risk of falls and lacked capacity because of her dementia.

Christopher McMaster, defending, said that Baghiu, formerly of Borough Road, Tranmere, Wirral, provides financially for her five-year-old son in Romania and is expecting her second child in October.

He said that on her behalf it was accepted, “these offences were profoundly unpleasant and inexcusable and she did not offer any excuses.”

He pointed out she was in her early 20’s and had had “limited training, was inexperienced and at that time was working 12 hour shifts, sometimes working 29 days out of 31 in a month.

“She was inexperienced, under trained and over worked.”

He said that Baghiu, who was accompanied by an interpreter in the dock, would no longer be able to work in the care sector but is now working in a warehouse. She has no previous convictions and does not represent a risk to the public.

Recorder Mahoney said that as well has poking the victim with a broom and poking at her face and laughing her behaviour also included “making silly noises, apparently taunting her.”

He said that she had accepted to the author of a pre-sentence report that her behaviour was “inappropriate and described yourself as feeling awful. You described using bad words and raising your voice as a coping mechanism at the time.”

The judge pointed out that the victim was “extremely vulnerable and had capacity issues which also meant it was unlikely she would complain. Your were in a position of significant trust. Your conduct was in essence a prolonged period of taunting which was obviously distressing.”

He said that although many of the comments were in a foreign language that would not have prevented her being inherently affected.

He pointed out that the case did not involve deliberate physical assault, she is remorseful and will not work in the care sector again. She is also pregnant and financially supports her young son and he said he had to consider conditions in prison because of the pandemic.

As well as the suspended sentence he ordered her to carry out 75 hours unpaid work and attend 15 days rehabilitation activities.