A nursing assistant who attacked two elderly women patients in a hospital ward was spared a jail sentence today.

Calum Knox, 31, assaulted Agnes Ferguson and Ann Reid, both aged 81, while working at Crosshouse Hospital in 2018.

He repeatedly poked Ms Ferguson in the ribs and syringed liquid into the mouth of the other victim, exposing her to the risk of aspiration.

At the High Court in Edinburgh a judge told Knox: "These are serious offences as they were directed against vulnerable adults who were in hospital and in your care."

Judge Fiona Tait said that in sentencing him she took into account that he was a first offender and a background report prepared on him assessed him as a low risk of future offending behaviour.

She imposed a community payback order on Knox requiring that he carry out the maximum period of 300 hours unpaid work, with social work supervision, for 12 months.

Knox, of Union Avenue, Ayr, had originally faced a charge of attempting to murder Ann Reid and another woman, but was acquitted of the murder bid allegations.

Defence counsel Lorenzo Alonzi said that Knox had faced "a very serious indictment" for a long period of time, which had caused him a lot of stress.

He said that the resulting convictions following his earlier trial were "very minor". He said: "These are simple assaults - not to injury."

Mr Alonzi told the court: "In my submission, a custodial sentence would be excessive. He does not present as a risk of further offending.

"He is never going to work in this line of work again."

The defence counsel said the background report prepared on Knox was favourable.

He added: "He does not  accept that he committed these offences but accepts he has been convicted."

Mr Alonzi argued that the two offences Knox was found guilty of were "right at the bottom of the scale".