A "SADISTIC bully" who repeatedly assaulted two disabled men while working as a carer had his sentence cut after top judges heard he was depressed following the death of his wife.

Sean Edward McNulty, 36, was a support worker at Newbus Grange hospital, in Darlington, when he was caught on CCTV assaulting a man with Down's Syndrome 19 times and an autistic patient twice, within the space of 30 days.

McNulty, of Finchdale Crescent, Darlington, pleaded guilty to two counts of ill-treatment or wilful neglect as a care worker in July this year.

He was jailed for two years and eight months at Teesside Crown Court in September.

Now Lord Justice Holroyde at London's Criminal Appeal Court has cut his term to two years, after hearing that he was suffering depression at the time of the offences due to his wife's death after a long illness.

The court heard that McNulty was brought to justice after work colleagues reported concerns about his behaviour to management.

His manager viewed CCTV spanning 30 days from March 10 this year and was appalled to see him repeatedly punching and kicking the patient with Down's Syndrome, and getting him in a headlock.

He was also shown slapping an autistic man.

After being arrested, McNulty said he couldn't remember carrying out any of the assaults.

"He stated that he had been suffering with his own mental health issues for six years as his wife had been ill and had recently passed away," said the judge.

Lawyers for McNulty today argued that his sentence was "manifestly excessive".

It was submitted that he had not been given enough credit for his previous good character or "the difficult time he had been experiencing at the time of the offending".

Lord Justice Holroyde, sitting with two other judges, slammed McNulty, saying: "The victims were in his care...he had been acting as a sadistic bully and some of the blows he struck had been forceful punches."

The judge also noted that it was merely "good fortune that the victims did not receive serious injury."

But he accepted that the sentence was too long in the circumstances and cut it by eight months.