The final closing speech was given late morning yesterday, 25 April, by Mr Paul Rooney for Sabah Mahmood. Mr Rooney started by telling the jury he had drawn the short straw, that they’d already had to listen to nine speeches and now they had to listen to his, but he said he would only be ten minutes and asked the jury to keep with him for those ten minutes.
Mr Rooney told the jury that much of what he’d intended to say had already been said by other counsel, and he’s aware that repetition helps no-one.
Imagine if you will it’s 2019 and you are Ms Mahmood.
A 24 year old woman who’s had a difficult life. Brought up in a strict household where you are not allowed go out and play, tricked into a forced marriage by her parents at the age of 16, on a day when she thought she was going to her school prom.
Being married to a man 10 years older than her, who was a not nice person and subjected you to domestic violence. Then having escaped from him you turn to your family for help and you’re shunned, cast aside, forced to live on the streets for weeks until you’re taken in by a women’s refuge.
When at your lowest and in need of help, your own family disown you and treat you in an awful way … you come to the conclusion your family are toxic and poisonous.
That chapter is bad enough, then you discover a lump, turns out to be Stage 4 cancer… admitted hospital as an inpatient. You remain an inpatient for a year, receiving chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Mr Rooney told the jury that a side effect of Sabah Mahmood’s cancer treatment was that the blood flow to her knees and hips was compromised and she was now, a woman in her 20s, required to have two hip and two knee replacements.
Mr Rooney told the jury that when Sabah Mahmood finally left the hospital she secured a job in elderly care, where she stayed for three years, with no complaints made about her and no criticisms of her work.
Mr Rooney told the jury that Sabah Mahmood then took a job at Whorlton Hall, first as an agency worker, before taking a pay cut to become a full time employee. Mr Rooney told the jury Ms Mahmood became a full time employee because it gave her holiday pay, and more importantly for her, sick pay.
Whilst working there you build up a rapport with one of the patients called Patient 7.
You find out her family are sending her messages. Messages so bad you’re told by Wendy, the nurse in charge, her family are not allowed to contact her any more.
This brings back painful memories of your own family and the toxic way they treated you. You speak to Patient 7 about this and feel sorry for her and frustrated she’s treated like this by her family.
One day 4 January 2019, you come into work to work the day shift that day, you notice Patient 7 is anxious. She tells you her family have been in touch … sent her a message that day saying they wished she’d died instead of her mum.
It upsets you and brings back memories of how you were treated by your family.
Mr Rooney tells the jury that during her morning shift Sabah Mahmood was contacted by the nurse in charge and asked to go to Patient 7’s room and help de-escalate a situation.
You’re not her appointed carer that morning but because you have a good rapport your supervisor identifies you as the best person to help Patient 7.
Mr Rooney tells the jury when Sabah Mahmood arrives Patient 7 is already elevated to such a point that she is required to be restrained on the bed, and some wire taken from her, to prevent her being able to self-harm.
Mr Rooney tells the jury that Sabah Mahmood covers Patient 7 with a blanket and asked her if she wanted medication. He tells the jury that Ms Mahmood has been told by the nurse, Wendy, that unless Patient 7 gives “a valid reason” why she’d like medication, she can not have it.
You ask several times.
She doesn’t give you a valid reason, it’s frustrating.
You remember what she told you about the message from her family that morning, you think it may be playing on her mind. So in an attempt to calm her down you tell her if her behaviour is about her family, you’ve told her before her family are fucking toxic.
Mr Rooney tells the jury that Sabah Mahmood believes that any family that would send a message saying they wish you’d died instead of your mother, never mind send that to a patient with mental health problems, are toxic. Mr Rooney says Ms Mahmood is not trying to upset Patient 7, she tells her she understands why she is upset.
Mr Rooney tells the jury that Sabah Mahmood then sat on the bed with Patient 7, she deescalates, and eventually when she’s back at baseline Ms Mahmood takes Patient 7 to play pool and she has a good afternoon.
Imagine you’ve done all of that with no training.
Not perfect, but got the desired result.
You are able to help Patient 7 make her day a better one than before you became involved.
Mr Rooney asks the jury to imagine that they were Sabah Mahmood, they’d never been in any trouble, never had a complaint at work, never been criticised but because of what she’d helped Patient 7 with that day “you’re in the Crown Court and on trial”.
You may think is grossly unfair you’re here at this Crown Court.
You know, the officer in the case told you, if care workers were only involved in one incidence then there was a policy decision they would not be prosecuted. Sabah Mahmood has only one incident, Count 27, yet they charged her didn’t they.
The prosecution are asking you ladies and gentlemen of the jury to make Sabah Mahmood a criminal.
Asking you to say what she did was deliberately ill-treating Patient 7.
Mr Rooney told the jury that the prosecution were asking that, despite saying in their closing speech that Ms Mahmood began doing her best to calm Patient 7 down.
So, the prosecution accept Sabah Mahmood was doing her best to calm Patient 7 down.
Mr Rooney told the jury that the prosecution accept, because they never challenged it, that a message was sent to Patient 7 that day from a family member saying that they’d wished she’d died instead of her mother.
But the prosecution go on to say Sabah Mahmood was exasperated, that just means the same as frustrated, and deliberately made the remark about her family as a deliberate act of ill-treatment.
Sabah Mahmood told you she was frustrated.
She was trying her best to deescalate the situation.
May not have been perfect, but it worked.
We say what Sabah Mahmood did that day was not done with the intention to cause ill-treatment.
Mr Rooney told the jury when they place Sabah Mahmood’s actions that day in the context of what was going on “what she was doing was trying to help Patient 7”. He told the jury that even if by some stretch of the imagination, “we’d say that would be a huge stretch of the imagination for her behaviour to be considered ill-treatment”, Mr Rooney said when placed in context correctly Ms Mahmood’s behaviour was excusable.
Mr Rooney told the jury that they may well agreed with Sabah Mahmood that Patient 7’s family were poison.
Sabah Mahmood is not a criminal, and she should not be made one for telling the truth.
Mr Rooney told the jury that Sabah Mahmood had demonstrated sympathy to Patient 7, and empathy because she herself “came from a toxic family”.
Without any training she was trying to do her best to help Patient 7.
We ask you bring your common senses and your life experiences to bear when you consider the case against Sahab Mahmood.
We are confident you’ll agree with us, the only fair and safe verdict, I repeat fair and safe verdict, is one of not guilty.