Calgary caregiver who left client sitting in his own feces has charges dropped

Article originally appeared in: CBC News
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A woman charged after a severely-disabled man in her care was found in a bathtub full of feces in Calgary will not face a trial.

[The Accused], 46, was charged with failing to provide the necessities of life after the 36-year-old man was left alone at the Comfort Inn on Macleod Trail for at least six hours in 2011.

Police found a severely-disabled man in a bathtub with his own feces after being called to the Comfort Inn on Macleod Trail in Calgary in 2011. His caregiver, [The Accused], arrived five hours later. (CBC)

[The Accused] had been the man's caretaker for 22 years and the pair had travelled to Calgary from the Crowsnest Pass area in southern Alberta.

Today was supposed to be the first day of [The Accused]'s trial in a Calgary courtroom, but the charge against her was stayed.

According to her lawyer Greg Dunn, the Crown prosecutor didn't have a case.

He says for the charge of failing to provide the necessities of life the Crown must prove the man's life was endangered — which he says the facts didn't support.

"She has been taking care of this person for the last 22 years," said Dunn.

"It was a full-time job — he is extremely disabled.... I think towards the end of her tenure, with respect to this job, she probably fell apart a little bit due to a number of personal factors and maybe due to exhaustion from the job."

Dunn said [The Accused] had been visiting her mother in hospital when the incident occurred. He also said she had recently lost her father and suffered from depression.

No longer a caregiver

Dunn says as a result of the incident, and subsequent charge, [The Accused] is no longer working as a caregiver.

"She realizes it was a really, really stupid thing to do, it was a poor choice in judgment," he said.

Dunn says this is a big relief for [The Accused], who he says has been remorseful from the start.

"She's ecstatic ... and she's very happy with the result," he said.

But one advocate for people with disabilities says nobody is being held accountable for the neglect of an extremely vulnerable person.

"I find that quite tragic," said Beverley Matthiessen, the executive director of the Alberta Committee of Citizens with Disabilities.

"This is definitely a case of neglect and abuse, and this person appears she's not going to have to pay any penalty for it."