An 18-year-old rest home worker posted a selfie online of a 88-year-old woman resident on the toilet because she “wanted to share her love of work”.
The woman in the picture, who had cognitive impairment, has since died, Judge Tom Gilbert was told in the Christchurch District Court when the teenager pleaded guilty to a charge of recklessly making an intimate visual recording.
The teenager’s name has been suppressed until the court considers an application for her to be discharged without conviction on February 27. Defence counsel Shannon-Leigh Litt said final name suppression may be sought at that hearing.
Judge Gilbert also suppressed the name of the Canterbury rest home where the teenager worked in August when she posted the photograph on a private Instagram account.
Someone notified the rest home after the photograph went online.
The police said the selfie showed the worker, and the 88-year-old woman on the toilet, fully clothed. She posted that she “wanted to share her love of work with people”, the police said.
The family of the woman in the photo opposed the worker being granted diversion – a scheme for first offenders on less serious charges to be given a chance to avoid a convictions if they make amends and apologise.
Judge Gilbert said a victim impact statement had been provided by the family of the 88-year-old, and he suggested that the owners of the rest home may also want to file a statement for the session in February where the worker will be either discharged or sentenced.
Miss Litt said outside the court that the worker had voluntarily left her job. The incident had caused her client humiliation and it was not necessarily grounds for dismissal. The teenager had not found further work, but wanted to pursue a career in teaching or nursing.
She said it was a case where a discharge without conviction had significant merit because it was at the lower end of the scale and the offender was aged only 18. “She is extremely apologetic. At such a young age she did not understand the consequences of her behaviour.”