Care home inquiry: Dr Prana Das will not stand trial
- 6 March 2013
- From the section Wales
One of Wales' biggest inquiries into alleged neglect and fraud at care homes looks likely to end without a trial.
A doctor facing charges after the £11.6m inquiry will probably not go to court after suffering brain damage last year in a violent burglary at his home.
After a hearing at Cardiff Crown Court, the decision was made to leave the charges against Dr Prana Das on file.
A south Wales MP later called for a public inquiry into the standards of nursing homes for the elderly in Wales.
Caerphilly MP Wayne David told BBC Radio Wales an inquiry had been discussed when he was a Wales Office minister but was not pursued at that time because it could have interfered with the legal case.
Meanwhile Gwent Police welcomed the decision that proceedings could restart against Dr Das if his condition improved.
Gwent Police Deputy chief constable Jeff Farrar said the force's aim throughout the investigation, Operation Jasmine, was to "seek the truth and secure justice".
Mr Farrar added: "This investigation has been the most complex and challenging multi-agency investigation ever undertaken by Gwent Police. It has also been the most professional and thorough investigation I have overseen in my 30 years of policing.
"During the case there have been extraordinary and unforeseen circumstances with the assault on the primary defendant. The injuries he has sustained mean that case cannot proceed."
The court heard last Friday that should Dr Das, a director of Puretruce Health Care Ltd, recover it may be possible to restart proceedings at a later date.
Mr Farrar said: "We welcome this decision. Throughout the investigation we have endeavoured to support the families and we will continue to offer support to them. Our thoughts remain with them at this difficult time."
Nurse admitted neglect
Dr Das was facing charges relating to neglect and fraud at two care homes - Brithdir Care Home in New Tredegar, near Bargoed, and The Beeches in Blaenavon.
Puretruce Health Care was charged with two counts of failure to discharge a duty to ensure residents at Brithdir Care Home were not exposed to risks to their health and safety.
Dr Das, 66, was charged with two counts of consenting or conniving to a failure to discharge a duty as a director at Puretruce, these failures being attributable to neglect.
He was also accused of theft relating to three cheques totalling £23,080.65 due to Woodstock Limited for work carried out and four counts of false accounting totalling £314,656.65.
His co-accused, Paul Black, of Upton St Leonards, Gloucester, will not stand trial because it was deemed inappropriate to try him alone.
Operation Jasmine was established in October 2005 after Gladys Thomas, 84, a patient at Bryngwyn Mountleigh nursing home in Newbridge, was admitted to Newport's Royal Gwent Hospital after being given incorrect doses of medication. She later died.
A nurse at the home admitted neglect on the basis of not administering the correct medication.
Eight carers and nurses were charged with wilful neglect relating to injuries on her body but the prosecution dropped the case three weeks into the trial in 2008.
The investigation spanned seven years, involved 75 police staff, and 4,126 statements were taken.
Ed Beltrami, chief crown prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in Wales said the investigation was thorough and complex.
He said: "Following a physical attack on Dr Prana Das in September 2012, reports were commissioned by his defence team to provide expert medical guidance on his ability to stand trial.
"These reports concluded that he is not currently in a fit state to stand trial and the Crown Prosecution Service has therefore agreed that a trial cannot currently take place."
Calling for a public inquiry into care homes, Mr David added: "Operation Jasmine was a major police inquiry. Enormous resources were committed to it and the examples of elder abuse in care homes which were examined were truly awful.
"It is therefore essential that lessons are learnt and that standards and procedures are improved in the light of this inquiry."
Blaenau Gwent MP Nick Smith has written to the director of public prosecutions to ask him to look into the police investigation.
He wants to know why it took so long and involved so many officers and resources.
The Care and Social Services Inspectorate for Wales (CSSIW) said it worked closely with Gwent Police during the investigation.
A spokesman said the alleged events "took place many years ago and CSSIW has modernised and strengthened the regulation and inspection of care homes since then".