A former health care assistant has been jailed for eight months after she systematically abused three vulnerable and defenceless residents at a Bradford nursing home.

June Downer, who was dismissed from her post at the Ashfield House nursing home on Thornton Road in February last year, slapped a 65-year-old woman across the face while she sat on the toilet.

On another occasion Downer smacked a 58-year-old resident with learning difficulties three times on the thigh while she was naked from the waist down waiting for her incontinence pad to be changed.

Bradford Crown Court heard today how a 65-year-old man with Down's Syndrome was also smacked across the arms by Downer when he made it difficult for staff to undress him so he could have a shower.

Prosecutor Paul Reid told Judge Neil Davey QC that only four of the 17 residents at the home were able to communicate and between June and September 2012 Downer's behaviour towards them caused concern among other staff.

''It is the prosecution's case that she would be violent towards them,'' said Mr Reid.

The court heard how the 65-year-old woman, who was unable to communicate, had been ''difficult'' on a day trip and when one of the staff jokingly described the resident as being a ''terror'' Downer walked over and slapped the complainant hard across the face with her open hand.

Mr Reid said the woman lost her balance on the toilet and Downer then wagged her finger in her face saying:''You better behave yourself the next time.''

In a later incident involving the same victim Downer slapped her hard on the thigh even though woman was asleep in bed having been sick earlier in the day.

Downer remarked herself that it was ''a bit hard'' and the court heard that the slap left a hand-print on the complainant's thigh.

On a further occasion when the same complainant threw herself onto the floor because she did not want to go to day-care Downer got a wheelchair, grabbed the woman by the back of her trousers and yanked her up before putting her in it.

Mr Reid said as the woman tried to kick her shoes off Downer slapped her on the thigh saying ''keep those shoes on''.

Downer, 61, of Southroyd Park, Pudsey, pleaded guilty last month to three offences of ill-treating residents who lacked mental capacity.

A fourth allegation involving another elderly woman was ordered to lie on the file by Judge Davey.

Her barrister Tony Kelbrick said he could not give any explanation for the offending and Downer herself had no real memory of doing what she had now admitted.

''This is a lady who has been in the care profession for many years and I have calculated nearly 5,000 days employment in that particular field,'' he told Judge Davey.

''Your honour is concerned with sentencing her for incidents which occurred over a very short period of time in the middle of 2012.''

The court heard that Downer had no previous convictions and was at the lower end of the intelligence scale, but Judge Davey said the series of offences represented the systematic abuse of elderly and vulnerable people.

Mr Kelbrick submitted that the case could be dealt with by a suspended prison sentence, but Judge Davey said Downer had shown no remorse and added that her actions were a gross breach of the trust placed in her by the victims themselves and their families.

After the case PC Channah Rotherforth, of the Bradford District Safeguarding Unit, said: "Downer was trusted to look after some of the most vulnerable people in Bradford district.

"By ill-treating the people in her care she breached the trust, not only of her employers but also the families who relied upon Downer to deliver the care that their relatives needed.

"We would like to thank the victims and their families for coming forward and reporting Downer's behaviour, and we hope that the sentence which has been passed down today will help to give them some closure.

"The Bradford District Safeguarding Unit is committed to protecting the vulnerable and will investigate all reports of abuse with the aim of seeking a conviction against offenders."