OLDER people are in danger because carers aren't getting enough support, a charity head has warned.

Gary FitzGerald, chief executive of Action on Elder Abuse, spoke out after a man who dragged his elderly mother to the floor and kicked her was spared a prison sentence.

As reported in the Daily Echo, Robert McAlpine appeared before a judge at Bournemouth Crown Court last week to be sentenced after admitting a count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

It was heard McAlpine, 57, had been caring for his mother Christine for 17 years before he attacked her on August 3 this year.

The defendant, who has no previous convictions, pulled the 90-year-old from her chair, kicked her lower arm and held a fire poker aloft as if to strike her.

He then called 999. When police visited the address in Sandringham Road, Poole, McAlpine told them: "She's a button-pusher and I tell you what, I'm glad I did it.

"Sometimes you just snap, you know."

In a later interview, he said he had lifted the poker "to brain her" with it, but didn't go through with the action, hitting a chair instead.

A judge sentenced McAlpine to nine months in prison suspended for 12 months. The defendant must also complete 20 rehabilitation activity requirement days under the supervision of the Probation Service.

The court heard Mrs McAlpine does not wish for her son to go to prison or be subjected to a restraining order. The victim still requires ongoing care.

Mr FitzGerald said: "This is a very sad case and whatever the rights or wrongs of the sentence issued here, one thing is clear: there is not enough support for carers and as a consequence, older people are being put in danger.

"It seems clear that Robert McAlpine was only spared prison because it would cause his mother difficulties if he served a custodial sentence, so presumably he is expected to resume the caring responsibilities that he says caused him to 'snap'.

"This is not a good outcome for him, and not a good outcome for Mrs McAlpine.

"Much greater social care provision is required so that fewer older people and their families are put in untenable positions such as this."