A CARE home worker accused of scalding a disabled resident has been cleared by a jury of inflicting grievous bodily harm.

Mathew Smith, 24, wept as he left the dock following a three-day trial at Teesside Crown Court.

Trevor Morris, a wheelchair user who had cerebral palsy, epilepsy, was partially paralysed and had communication problems, suffered life-threatening scalds to his hips, legs, feet and groin area in October 2003.

He died of bronchopneumonia in April last year, but the trial was told his death was not connected to the scalding.

The prosecution did not claim Mr Morris was deliberately harmed, but alleged Mr Smith, who was trained in safe bathing procedures in his two-and-a-half months at the home, acted recklessly in not checking the temperature before lowering Mr Morris, 53, into the scalding water.

Mr Smith, of Whinchat Close, Stockton, admitted he failed to properly check the temperature of the water, but told police: "I didn't do it intentionally."

The jury took an hour to clear him, and afterwards he told The Northern Echo: "I am just glad the truth has come out."

Earlier, Alan Taylor, prosecuting, told the court that the temperature of the bath at the Elm Ridge Residential Home, in Coulby Newham, Middlesbrough, was 50 degrees centigrade - well above the normal level of 41 to 42.

Signs next to the baths in the home reminded carers of what the temperature should be, and it was normal procedure for staff to test it with a thermometer.

After the case, a sobbing Mr Smith said: "I am sorry for any grief I have brought to Mr Morris's family, but people can see now that what happened was a mistake and not deliberate.

"I have been judged by my peers in court and I am just relieved it is all over now."