A caregiver accused of trying to murder a pregnant woman worked in services to vulnerable children for almost a year before health chiefs took notice, it can be revealed.
rancis Christopher Osemwegie was hired through a Belfast Trust agency in January 2021 – four months after he was charged with attempted murder.
The Trust only discovered the alarming oversight when Osemwegie failed to show up for work in November 2021 and it emerged that he was in court that day, where he was convicted of two counts of unlawful and malicious aggravated assault.
It followed a brutal attack – witnessed by children – on his ex-partner, which left her with a fractured skull and bleeding from the brain.
The case has raised serious questions about the procedures currently in place to ensure suspected violent criminals are not allowed to work within the NHS.
It comes as the Belfast Trust remains at the center of the UK’s largest ever criminal inquiry into allegations of neglect and abuse by residents of Muckamore Abbey Hospital.
Details of the case have come to light after Osemwegie, who had been sentenced to six years and six months, was released by the Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC).
A fitness-to-practice panel was fed police statements from Osemwegie’s two victims, one of whom was his ex-partner.
She told investigators: “Me and the children were standing across the street from the house, the children were just playing. I held my youngest daughter.
“I heard [Osemwegie] speak, he called my name and then suddenly he hit me on the head, I don’t even know what he hit me with.
“I can’t remember anything else until I woke up in hospital days later… the injuries I sustained were significant, I had a ruptured blood vessel in my brain, my skull was fractured in the middle and behind my right ear.
“I had to have emergency surgery and stay in intensive care.”
She continued: “This incident changed me deeply, I get nervous walking in the store alone, it takes me longer to remember things.
“I have to think carefully when I speak to make sure I’m saying the right thing… I don’t think I’ll ever fully recover from this horrific incident.”
Osemwegie’s second victim told police: “I screamed. I think that brought [Osemwegie’s] attention to me.
“I was standing in the middle of the street and then he looked at me, he came towards me and swung the handrail…he hit me extremely hard in the right arm.
“He hit me twice and that’s when I realized he wasn’t going to stop, so I ran away…that incident had a huge impact on me emotionally and mentally.
“I’m currently living in fear, having trouble sleeping and not knowing how to process the resulting feelings.”
Now that Osemwegie has been removed from the NISCC registry, questions are mounting about how he was allowed to work in foster and disabled children’s facilities while he was charged with attempted murder.
The charges were later dropped, but Osemwegie was found guilty of a number of other serious crimes at Belfast Crown Court as late as November last year.
According to the regulator, Osemwegie was first registered as an adult day worker in a dormitory on June 24, 2016.
He started working at Archer Resourcing, a healthcare recruitment agency based in Ipswich, in January 2021 and has been assigned a role at the Belfast Trust.
The NISCC fitness for practice results state: “The Trust confirmed that the registrant was assigned to Nursing Services between January 2021 and May 2021 and thereafter to the Children with Disabilities Service from 30 June 2021 to 28 November 2021.”
NISCC received a referral from the Belfast Trust on December 10, 2021, saying they were aware that he was arrested in August 2020 and charged “with attempted murder of a pregnant woman and GBH of another, as well as three other charges related to events of August 6, 2020”.
The Trust said, “unaware of the foregoing,” the Trust employed Osemwegie, 48, through an employment agency.
The NISCC report states that when Osemwegie failed to show up for work as expected on November 29, 2021, investigations by the Trust with police and NISCC revealed that he had been convicted in connection with the bloody attack.
“I believe the registrant is currently in custody awaiting sentencing and cannot be contacted,” the Trust referral reads.
A spokesman for the Belfast Trust said: “Temporary workers are employed directly by recruitment agencies and it is therefore the responsibility of these agencies to ensure a person’s fitness for work before they are placed with a health and social care foundation.
“On 30 November 2021, staff at Belfast Trust raised concerns about an agency employee and immediately launched an investigation into the validity and accuracy of pre-employment checks that recruitment agencies are required to conduct before their staff can work with us.”
As a result of the investigation, the Trust alerted a number of authorities including the PSNI, Department of Health and NISCC, while immediately directing all social care managers to directly view all recruitment agencies’ Access NI certificates to verify their accuracy and authenticity.
The spokesperson continued: “This included all existing agency staff who work in social care. This additional safeguard has been in effect since December 2021 and provides the Trust with another layer of security.”
The Trust also conducted a risk assessment to determine Osemwegie’s contact with children and families and “found no concerns” at the time, so users of the service were not informed.
“However, we recognize that this was not best practice and we sincerely apologize for it,” the spokesman continued.
“Our staff have since spoken to these carers, reached out to families and arranged support for the service users who have been in contact with this individual, to make them aware of the circumstances and to provide them with an opportunity to discuss any concerns they may have.
“We have also offered a one-stop shop should they need support or guidance in the future.
“The safety of all of our patients, service users and staff is paramount and Belfast Trust will continue to closely review all Access NI Enhanced Disclosure exams for agency workers applying for work in social care.”
The PSNI and Archer Resourcing did not respond to a request for comment while NISCC was unable to be contacted.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/care-worker-still-employed-for-nearly-a-year-after-attempted-murder-charge-41961227.html Caregiver employed for almost a year after being charged with attempted murder