A Horsley man who sexually abused two vulnerable, disabled patients at Unanderra’s Marco Polo nursing home has been jailed for 11 years.
Daniel Thomas Mooney was yesterday ordered to spend a minimum of 7 years of that term behind bars, with presiding judge Deborah Payne describing the abuse case as one of the worst she’d seen during her time on the bench.
Mooney had earlier confessed to assaulting two female patients at the home in 2010 and 2012 while employed as a carer.
Wollongong District Court heard both women were virtually bedridden and unable to communicate verbally due to their illnesses, leading Mooney to prey on them for his own sexual gratification.
He first struck in 2010, indecently assaulting a woman in her bed late one October evening while a colleague was conducting security checks in a separate part of the building.
Upon her return, the other nurse noticed the main light in the woman’s bedroom was off and the privacy curtain was pulled all the way around the bed.
She quickly pulled the curtain back to find the victim lying on her side in the foetal position, minus her underwear, and with her bottom near the edge of the bed. Mooney was standing over the woman with his fly zipper undone and his hands on her hips.
He quickly jumped back and began making excuses about what he was doing there. As he did so, the nurse saw he had a bulge in his pants consistent with an erection.
The incident was reported to the head nurse on duty at the time and later to the home’s senior managers. However, it wasn’t followed up and no-one reported it to the police.
Almost two years later Mooney abused a second patient; a woman in her 80s suffering from physical and mental disabilities.
The court heard that Mooney sneaked into the woman’s room about 4am on September 21, 2012, drawing the curtain around her bed before sexually assaulting her.
He was eventually interrupted by another nurse, but the matter went unreported.
The following month Mooney abused the same woman twice in one night, indecently assaulting her about 2am before again getting caught by another nurse, and then sneaking back into her room at 4am and raping her.
He later told police the assault lasted only a few seconds as he ‘‘realised it was wrong, it was a mistake and I shouldn’t have done it’’.
Senior managers were alerted to Mooney’s behaviour and suspended his employment before reporting the matter to police.
Mooney voluntarily attended the Lake Illawarra Police Station on November 13 for an interview but denied any assaults had taken place.
Five days later he returned and confessed to the crimes.
Mooney’s lawyer, Nerissa Keay, yesterday told the court her client had been sexually abused himself as a 12-year-old. She said he was sorry for what he had done.
Judge Payne described Mooney’s actions as ‘‘a gross breach of trust’’.
‘‘[The victims] were there because they needed care, they were vulnerable, and they were entitled to feel safe in the home in which they’d been placed,’’ she said.
However, she also noted he had no criminal record, was willing to complete a sex offender’s program while in custody and was entitled to a discount for his early guilty plea.
She sentenced him to an overall term of 11 years, with a non-parole period of 7 years.
With time already served, he will be eligible to apply for bail in August 2020.