A Mount Warrigal carer has been found not guilty of assaulting five elderly residents with dementia at Warrigal Warilla in late 2018.
Police had alleged that Shakuntala Mudaliar had assaulted three women and two men, aged between 74 and 87, at the aged care facility between October and December.
During a two-day hearing in Wollongong Local Court this week, Warrigal Warilla care worker Roshiny Ditto gave evidence that she had been witness to four of the alleged assaults.
In three separate instances she said Mudaliar had slapped residents, and in another she had sprayed a cleaning product in a female resident's face. Another worker, Anu Mohan, told the court that he had witnessed Mudaliar slap another female resident while attending to her personal care.
However in his verdict, Magistrate Mark Douglass found the two principal witnesses were unreliable, and their evidence contradictory.
He also said their delay in reporting the alleged incidents - which were not reported to management until December 22 - had left a "forensic vacuum" for investigators.
"Police were unable to take photos, if available, of injuries," he said.
"The delay in this matter has an impact not only on the police's ability to investigate what are very serious offences, but it has an impact on the credibility of these witnesses.
"To think professionals in a care centre would not take immediate action ... does not have a ring of truth."
Mudaliar's barrister Stephen Russell told the court that his client had never had previous complaints about her handling of patients, and that she had tapped - not slapped - them in order to communicate directions.
During his cross examination of witnesses, Mr Russell suggested that Mudaliar had been spraying air freshener and had unintentionally sprayed the female resident in the face.
"I really don't know if it was intentional or not, I just saw her spray," Ms Ditto replied.
Magistrate Douglass said in Mudaliar's written evidence she had given a "lawful excuse" for any touching of residents.
Outside court, Mudaliar's barrister Stephen Russell said his client, known as Tala, was "happy the truth had come out".
"Tala is very happy with the result; she's happy it's all over and happy with the fair hearing she received," he said.
"She's happy the court's ordered costs. When she was sacked, she had no income for 12 months."
Mudaliar told reporters she was relieved and would now be able to "sleep at night", however she said she would never work in aged care again.
The story Carer found not guilty of assaulting residents at Warilla aged care home first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.