A MENTAL health worker who sexually assaulted a vulnerable patient with bipolar disorder at a unit in Bury has been spared jail.

Patrice Agyarey was working at Fairfield General in March 2018 after working for an agency for the previous three years, Minshull Street Crown Court heard.

He came across a vulnerable patient, obtained her phone number and told her she should not be self harming and that she was beautiful, the court was told.

The 65-year-old struck when escorting her back from a cigarette break by hugging her and then kissing her. The unwanted contact lasted for 15 seconds and was captured on CCTV.

The woman reported him to his bosses but when police spoke to Agyarey he denied doing anything wrong claiming the patient was vulnerable to discredit her and even denying it when shown still images of the incident.

Prosecutor Justin Hayhoe said: "The defendant put his arms around her at the bottom of the stairs.

“She described the defendant as being out of order.

“He was arrested on September 5, he described her as being vulnerable, he said he had not sexually assaulted her. He said she needed a good deal of care and support.

“He was re-interviewed in January. During the two interviews he continued to deny it, he suggested all he had done was give her a hug.”

Representing Agyarey, defence lawyer Martin Sharpe said his client was a devoutly religious man.

He said: “He is 65 years of age, he is of positively good character.

“He is a devout man, there are character references from his employer and from a Sunday school.”

He added: “If I can choose my words carefully, she was not at all a shrinking violet.

“She put her arm around him, her arm goes around his back.”

Judge Bernadette Baxter said: “Because of your previous good character and ill health and all that I have heard and read about you in the pre-sentence report, for that reason I can pull back from the need for immediate custody.”

She suspended the sentence of 16 months for two years.

The judge ruled Agyarey, of Dobson Court, Newton Heath, who pleaded guilty to sexual assault, had to attend 25 days of rehabilitation activities.