‘Culture of cruelty’: 11 care home workers sentenced for shocking abuse of vulnerable residents exposed by Panorama probe
Abusers: Top left to right Kelvin Fore, Michael Ezenagu, Neil Ferguson, Sookalingun Appoo and Wayne Rogers. Bottom left to right Alison Dove, Charlotte Cotterell, Danny Brake, Graham Doyle, Holly Draper and Jason Gardiner
11 care workers admitted 38 charges of either neglect or ill-treatment of people with severe learning difficulties between them
Six members of staff jailed for total of seven years and four months and five received suspended sentences at Bristol Crown Court today
Wayne Rodgers, 32, was jailed for two years for abusing vulnerable patients
Footage showed residents being slapped, soaked in water, trapped under chairs, taunted, sworn at and having their hair pulled and eyes poked
Jason Gardiner, 43, apologised, saying it was a ‘tough place to work’
A judge has condemned the ‘scandalous culture of cruelty’ at a residential care home where members of staff were caught by an undercover reporter abusing vulnerable adults.
Six members of staff were jailed yesterday for their part in the institutional abuse at Winterbourne View private hospital. They were given sentences ranging from two years to six months, while another five workers escaped with suspended sentences.
The authorities had repeatedly failed to act on warnings about ‘inhumane and hate-fuelled treatment’ of vulnerable patients with mental health problems.
Arrests were made only after video of mistreatment was broadcast by BBC1’s Panorama.
Posing as a care worker, reporter Joe Casey recorded footage of residents being slapped, soaked in water, trapped under chairs, taunted, sworn at and having their hair pulled and eyes poked. Nine support workers and two nurses operated in ‘groups’, humiliating the young adult patients who they regarded as ‘playthings’.
This poor woman was dragged across the floor in this undercover footage obtained by a whistleblower
Castlebeck, the owner of the 26-bed hospital with a turnover of £3.7million, was paid an average of £3,500 a week for each patient.
Judge Neil Ford QC, the Recorder of Bristol, described Winterbourne View as an ‘institution in which systematic abuse’ of vulnerable people took place.
He said: ‘The hospital was run with a view to profit and with a scandalous lack of regard to the interests of its residents and staff.
‘A culture of ill-treatment developed and, as is often the case, cruelty bred cruelty.
‘This culture corrupted and debased, to varying degrees, the defendants.’
The home at Hambrook, south Gloucestershire, was closed in the wake of the scandal and the judge praised the TV investigator for stopping ‘systematic abuse’.
Staff played sadistic games with the patients, shown here placing one person under furniture with the other sat in the seat above
Barristers for the defendants apologised on behalf of their clients and blamed the culture at the home, calling it a ‘disease, cancer and fog’.
Ringleader Wayne Rogers, 32, admitted nine offences of ill-treatment and was jailed for two years. His behaviour was said to be of a ‘particularly cruel nature.’ Alison Dove, 25, admitted seven offences of ill-treatment and was jailed for 20 months.
The judge said she suggested her behaviour encouraging patients to fight was ‘borne of boredom during long shifts’. Graham Doyle, 26, admitted seven charges of ill-treatment and was jailed for 20 months. His behaviour was said to be ‘cruel, callous and degrading’.
Holly Draper, 24, admitted four charges of ill-treatment and was jailed for 12 months for ‘sustained and unpleasant bullying’.
Nurse Sookalingum Appoo, 59, admitted three charges of wilful neglect and was jailed for six months. He repeatedly failed to intervene.
Kelvin Fore, 33, was jailed for six months for one charge of wilful neglect. The charge nurse failed to report abuse. Former prison officer Jason Gardiner, 43, and Danny Brake, 27, admitted two charges of ill-treatment and were sentenced to a four-month suspended jail term and 200 hours of unpaid work.
Michael Ezenagu, 29, admitted two offences of ill-treatment and was given a six-month suspended jail term and 200 hours unpaid work. Neil Ferguson, 28, was given the same sentence for one charge of ill-treatment.
Charlotte Cotterell, 22, admitted one charge of ill-treatment and given a four-month suspended sentence and 150 hours unpaid work.
An independent report into the scandal, published in August, lambasted the local NHS, police and health watchdogs for not acting on dozens of complaints by patients and their families.
Whistleblower Terry Bryan, a former nurse at the home, went to the BBC with his concerns after his complaints to owner Castlebeck and care watchdogs were ignored.
Journalist Joseph Carey recorded shocking footage during a five-week investigation in February and March last year and the programme was shown the following June.
A serious case review published in August criticised Darlington-based Castlebeck Ltd, which owned the hospital, for putting profits before humanity.
The 26-bed hospital opened in 2006 and by 2010 had a turnover of £3.7 million. The average weekly fee for a patient was £3,500.
Prosecutor Kerry Barker said care watchdogs failed to act on repeated warnings of ‘inhumane, cruel and hate-fuelled treatment’ of patients.
‘The so-called restraint techniques were used to inflict pain, humiliate patients and bully them into compliance with the demands of their carers,’ Mr Barker said.
‘It is the Crown’s case that generally the offences were motivated by hostility towards the victims based on their disabilities.
‘The offenders were operating in groups; the offences involved an abuse of power; an abuse of trust; the victims were particularly vulnerable and on occasion the ill-treatment of a patient was sustained, with the consequences of serious psychological effects.’
Winterbourne View residential hospital in Bristol where the vile offences took place
Mr Barker told the court that the five residents, Simone Blake, Simon Tovey, Louise Bissett, Louisa Deville and Lorraine Guildford, suffered greatly at the hands of the defendants.
Among the hours of graphic footage played to the court during the sentencing hearing was support worker Wayne Rogers telling Miss Blake: ‘Do you want me to get a cheese grater and grate your face off?
‘Do you want me to turn you into a giant pepperoni?’
He also slapped Mr Tovey across the cheek and told him: ‘Do you want a scrap? Do you want a fight? Go on and I will bite your bloody face off.’
Colleague Alison Dove said Miss Blake ‘loved pain’ and then told her: ‘Simone, come here and I’ll punch your face.’
Dove also threatened Miss Bissett when she broke a window in the lounge with a chair.
She snarled at her: ‘Listen, in future I’m going to let you sit on the f****** floor, cos you don’t deserve a chair.’
On another occasion, Dove, Graham Doyle and Holly Draper restrained Miss Blake as Sookalingum Appoo forced paracetamol into her mouth.
Later during the same shocking incident Doyle put on a mock-German accent and, mimicking a Nazi guard, slapped her over the head with his gloves shouting: ‘Nein, nein, nein, nein.’
Barristers representing the 11 defendants apologised on behalf of their clients but blamed the culture of Castlebeck – calling it a ‘disease’, a ‘cancer’ and a ‘fog’ that had engulfed Winterbourne View.
Judge Ford praised Mr Casey for the ‘unpleasant task’ of collecting evidence of the ill-treatment of the residents, which was later broadcast on Panorama.