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Jury discharged as Bradford care home neglect trial collapses

Stephen Pelkowski, 51, the manager of Highdell care home. Picture: Ross Parry Agency
Stephen Pelkowski, 51, the manager of Highdell care home. Picture: Ross Parry Agency
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The jury in the trial of a Bradford care home manager and one of his staff have been discharged after a judge ruled that it was unfair to continue with the case.

Earlier this week Judge Colin Burn directed the jury to return not guilty verdicts against six other staff, who were alleged to have wilfully neglected a 79-year-old dementia sufferer at the Highdell care home in Idle, Bradford.

Following further legal submissions at the end of the prosecution case the judge decided to “stay” the same indictment against care home manager Stephen Pelkowski, 51, from Addingham, and 57-year-old senior nurse Phillipa Robinson, from Shipley.

The Crown Prosecution Service were given time to consider whether they wanted to challenge the ruling, but today Judge Burn was told that a decision had been made not to appeal.

Judge Burn told the jury, who had heard allegations that Edward Hinnells had been living in “abject squalor and filth” at the home back in 2013, that they were going to be discharged.

“I’m not discharging you because there is going to be a re-trial...I am discharging you because the proceedings against these two defendants are not going to go any further,” said Judge Burn.

The judge explained that there had been a lot of legal argument in the case revolving around the fact that there was evidence which was not before the CPS when the decision was made to bring the prosecution in the first place.

Judge Burn said there had been reference to a number of agencies but none of those persons in fact made statements or provided evidence for the CPS to consider in this case.

He said he had ruled that the evidence should have been obtained and because it wasn’t it was simply unfair for the defendants to be tried effectively on only a little piece of the evidence.

Judge Burn said there was no dispute about the accuracy of the photographs of Mr Hinnells room on December 19, 2013 or the descriptions of the room on December 19 and December 20, 2013, but there was “absolutely no evidence” that the six defendants cleared earlier in the week had even been on duty on those days.

The jury were told that the prosecution had decided not to pursue the trial on the basis of the narrow issue of alleged neglect on those two days alone.

“Therefore I am going to discharge you. There will be no further proceedings in relation to this criminal prosecution,” said the judge.