Edinburgh care firm fined after worker's rape ordeal

An Edinburgh-based care company has been fined £20,000 for their failure to safeguard a worker who became the victim of abduction, assault and rape.

Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 6:07 pm

Let us know what you think and join the conversation at the bottom of this article.

The Action Group, which provides housing and community support to those with additional needs, pled guilty to health and safety at work breaches committed in 2017 and 2018.

The court heard that on December 27, 2018 Albert Caballero abducted, assaulted, sexually assaulted, and raped a 25-year-old woman during a visit to his Edinburgh home.

Caballero subjected the care worker to a sickening ordeal at his home on Windsor Place, Portobello.

In June 2019, Caballero was sentenced to eight years imprisonment.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard Caballero repeatedly urged the victim to phone the police to tell them what he had done to her after carrying out the assault.

He also contacted the emergency services and told a call handler that he raped the woman and intended to jump in front of a bus if officers did not arrive within minutes.

Two officers found him outside an unmanned police station and he told them: "I've raped someone. I'm guilty. I've done a very bad thing."

Caballero, 46, admitted abducting, assaulting and raping the woman at his flat in Windsor Place, Portobello, and was jailed for eight years.

The cleaner received support from a charity group which helps children and adults with learning difficulties.

The support worker attended at the flat for a pre-arranged meeting with Caballero and sat down on a sofa to talk to him.

Caballero told the woman that he had problems with a door and she said she would get someone to look at it and got ready to leave. But she then realised that he had locked the door and he stepped in front of her to stop her unlocking it.

The woman tried to leave again but he blocked her exit and pushed her, resulting in her falling backwards to the hall floor.

Caballero held her down by the arms and told her he was going to have sex with her. The woman punched him on the nose leaving him bleeding.

He took her into a bedroom and pushed her on to a bed and took off her clothes before sexually assaulting her and raping her.

Caballero told her he would go to prison but the woman said she would not tell the police in the hope that he would let her go.

He told her to call 999 to tell the police and kept saying: "Phone the police. Tell them I've raped you." He followed her to her car before she drove off.

The woman, who was screaming and hysterical, called her manager, who met her at Leith police station.

Caballero went to Portobello police station and used a public phone to contact the area control room and said he raped the support worker.

The case sparked a probe by the Health and Safety Investigation Unit of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service which referred the case to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE)

The HSE investigation found that the company had failed to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risk Caballero posed to female employees. They failed to identify and implement measures to mitigate these risks when providing support to Caballero at his home.

The investigation also uncovered a history and recent escalation of inappropriate behaviour from Caballero. Reports of this were not recorded despite many of those who worked with him being aware of or experiencing incidents.

Since the attack the company have implemented a new lone-working policy and support workers have been given smartphones to enable communication and track location.

A review of the individual risk assessments for all service users was carried out to identify potential risks to staff and additional control measures put in place where appropriate.

Alistair Duncan, Head of COPFS’s Health and Safety Investigation Unit, said: “A young woman suffered a serious and traumatic assault and rape while acting in the course of her employment.

"The Action Group could have prevented this if they had carried out a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risk posed to female employees.

“Lone workers are more vulnerable and employers should provide the necessary support to prevent such incidents.

“This prosecution should serve as a reminder to all employers that failure to establish the necessary measures and policies can have serious consequences.”

The Action Group’s CEO Linda Tuthill said: “No apology can undo the harm inflicted on our valued colleague, but we are truly devastated and deeply sorry for the unimaginable horror she suffered at the hands of someone she supported.

“We are a charity whose sole passion and purpose is to support some of the most vulnerable children and adults in our communities, and we are nothing without the dedicated carers and support workers who go above and beyond to make a difference to peoples’ lives. The safety and security of our staff is always our key priority, and we would never knowingly put any of them in a situation that was unsafe.

“The Action Group has co-operated fully with the Health and Safety Executive’s investigation and overhauled all our operational practices including improving our lone working risk assessment, introducing PeopleSafe safety app, as well as implementing improved risk assessment training for all staff.

"We are absolutely committed to delivering meaningful and lasting change to ensure our workplace is safe for employees who provide an unwavering service to our community’s most vulnerable.”

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.