FOUR care workers have been sentenced today for neglecting and ill-treating residents at a North Lancashire care home.

Gemma Pearson, Katie Cairns, Carol Moore and Darren Smith have all been sentenced at Preston Crown Court on charges relating to the mistreatment of seven men and one woman between May 2010 and September 2011.

All the victims, living at the Hillcroft nursnig home in Slyne-with-Hest, had been diagnosed as suffering from dementia.

Today Pearson, 28, of Hill Street, Carnforth, who was convicted of one offence of being a carer involved in the ill treatment and wilful neglect of a person, escaped prison.

She was made the subject of a 12 month community order and a 12 month supervision requirement and is also required to carry out 40 hours unpaid work in the community.

Today she was told by the judge at Preston Crown Court: "Do not think, just because you're not going to prison, that you've got away with it."

Cairns, 27, of Riverview Court, Morecambe, was sentenced to five months after being found guilty of three similar offences.

Moore, 54, of Ripon Avenue, Lancaster, who was also found guilty of one offence, was sentenced to four months.

Smith, of Howgill Avenue, Lancaster, who had previously pleaded guilty to eight offences, was handed an eight month sentence.

“Darren Smith, Katie Cairns, Gemma Pearson and Carol Moore showed complete disregard for the wellbeing of the people they had been entrusted to care for," said Detective Chief Inspector Andy Hulme, following the hearing.

"Further to that, their ill treatment was directed at some of the most vulnerable members of our community; these people couldn’t speak out or defend themselves.

"Their behaviour was utterly contemptible and I can only hope they will now reflect on their actions and see just how cowardly their conduct was."

Their behaviour came to light in May, 2012, when Lancashire County Council Adult Services Social Care department made police aware of a complaint they had received about the level of care provided to 'some residents' at the Hillcroft home.

The group were found to have abused residents in their care in a number of ways: they mocked them, bullied them and on occasions deliberately assaulted them.

Most of the neglect and ill treatment related to instances of throwing bean bags and balls deliberately at the residents.

Detective Chief Inspector Hulme added: "I can only try to understand what an incredibly difficult period this has been for those affected, but I sincerely hope that these sentences provide an element of closure for all of the families concerned."