Secret filming reveals sickening cruelty of care home workers

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SHOCKING footage recorded by an undercover journalist of care home workers abusing patients was played to a court yesterday.

Staff at Winterbourne View private hospital, near Bristol, were caught forcibly pinning down frail and confused residents.

They were also slapped, soaked in water, trapped under chairs, taunted and had their hair pulled and eyes poked.

The hospital was exposed by the BBC Panorama programme, which broadcast footage an undercover reporter had captured while working there.

Whistleblower Terry Bryan, a former nurse at the home, went to the BBC with his concerns after his complaints to Castlebeck and care watchdogs were ignored.

Journalist Joseph Carey recorded shocking footage during a five-week investigation in February and March last year.

A total of 11 former staff have between them admitted 38 charges of either neglect or ill-treatment of people with severe learning difficulties and returned to Bristol Crown Court yesterday for sentencing, which is expected to take most of the week.

Darlington-based Castlebeck Ltd, which owned the hospital, was accused by prosecutor Kerry Barker of ignoring the abuse because it was motivated by greed.

Mr Barker said it dismissed concerns raised by the patients or their relatives and “had little or no interest in the care and welfare of the patients at Winterbourne View”.

“The concerns of relatives of the patients detained in the hospital were ignored or brushed aside,” he said.

“Castlebeck’s motivation was simply financial reward.”

The court heard the 26-bed hospital opened in 2006 and by 2010 had a turnover of £3.7m. The average weekly fee for a patient was £3,500.

Mr Barker said the hospital was registered with the Care Quality Commission to provide assessment, treatment and rehabilitation to adults with learning disabilities and autism.

“Sadly those agencies responsible for the inspection and oversight of what was happening to patients at Winterbourne View failed to fulfil their responsibilities despite numerous warnings and indicators of the inhumane, cruel and hate-fuelled treatment of those patients,” he said.

Nine of the defendants were unregulated support workers, who were not subject of any code of conduct or minimum training standards. The other two – Kelvin Fore and Sookalingum Appoo – were nurses supposedly supervising the care provided to patients.

“In short, the culture of the hospital was one of bored, un-stimulated patients and staff corralled on the upper floor where the use of illegal physical restraints was commonplace,” he said.

“The so-called restraint techniques were used to inflict pain, humiliate patients and bully them into compliance with the demands of their carers.

“Patients who threatened to complain were often silenced by further bullying.”

The 11 defendants in the case are:

Michael Ezenagu, 29, of Shepherds Bush, west London, who has pleaded guilty to two counts of ill-treating Simone Blake;

Graham Doyle, 26, who has pleaded guilty to seven charges of ill-treating Miss Blake;

Jason Gardiner, 43, of Bristol, who has admitted two charges of ill-treating Louisa Deville and Simon Tovey;

Danny Brake, 27, of Fishponds, Bristol, who has also pleaded guilty to two charges of ill-treating Miss Blake and Mr Tovey;

Sookalingum Appoo, 59, of Bristol, who has admitted three charges of wilfully neglecting Miss Blake;

Wayne Rogers, 32, of Bristol, who has pleaded guilty to nine charges of ill-treating Louisa Deville, Mr Tovey and Miss Blake;

Alison Dove, 25, of Bristol, who has pleaded guilty to seven charges of ill-treating Lorraine Guilford, Louise Bissett and Miss Blake;

Holly Draper, 24, of Mangotsfield, Bristol, who has pleaded guilty to two charges of ill-treating Miss Blake;

Charlotte Cotterell, 22, of Yate, Bristol, who has pleaded guilty to one charge of ill-treating Miss Blake;

Neil Ferguson, 28, of Emersons Green, Bristol, who has pleaded guilty to one count of ill-treating Miss Blake;

Kelvin Fore, 33, of Middlesbrough, who has pleaded guilty to one charge of wilfully neglecting Miss Blake.

Mr Barker told the court that the five residents had suffered greatly the their hands. Their victims’ behaviour had changed and they often went on to inflict on others the abuse they received.

He added: “It is the Crown’s case that generally the offences were motivated by hostility towards the victims based on their disabilities.”