Winterbourne View worker admits abusing patients

Top Row left to right: Daniel Brake; Holly Draper; Jason Gardiner; Kelvin Fore Middle Row from left to right: Charlotte Cotterell; Michael Onyema Ezenagu; Sooaklingum Appoo; Wayne Rogers Bottom Row: Graham Doyle; Alison Dove; Neil Ferguson
Image caption Prosecutors said they would urge the judge to take the seriousness of the crimes into account when he sentences the defendants later this month

The last of 11 people accused of maltreating five patients at a private hospital has pleaded guilty.

Michael Onyema Ezenagu, 28, of White City, London, was due on trial at Bristol Crown Court but admitted two charges of ill-treating a patient.

He and the 10 other defendants were originally detained after secret filming by the BBC's Panorama at Winterbourne View, near Bristol.

The other defendants pleaded guilty at previous hearings.

Judge Neil Ford said they would all be sentenced at the same time, but this would not take place for at least three weeks.

'Hate crimes'

Ann Reddrop, head of complex cases at the Crown Prosecution Service in the South West, said: "The CPS will ask Judge Ford to take into account the fact that these are disability hate crimes when determining the sentence of the defendants.

"As such he is able to impose an uplift in the sentence to reflect the seriousness in this type of crime.

"At Winterbourne View, people who should have been able to trust carers had that trust cruelly and repeatedly abused."

Det Ch Supt Louisa Rolfe, from Avon and Somerset Police, praised the victims and their families for their "support and patience" during investigations.

"We were shocked by the Panorama programme as many people were," she said.

"The voice of the victim has been central to our investigation into this case.

"The investigation has always been about the criminal actions of eleven individuals working at Winterbourne View."

She confirmed a Serious Case Review report on the case would be published on Tuesday.

"Had it not been for the actions of individuals who raised concerns about the neglect and cruelty suffered by the victims at Winterbourne View, this wholly unacceptable behaviour would have continued unchecked," Det Ch Supt Rolfe added.

Previously, Wayne Rogers, 31, of Kingswood, pleaded guilty to nine charges of ill-treating a patient.

Alison Dove, 24, of Kingswood, and Graham Doyle, 25, of Patchway, both pleaded guilty to seven charges of ill-treating a patient.

Jason Gardiner, 44, of Hartcliffe, Daniel Brake, 27, of Downend, and Holly Laura Draper, 23, of Mangotsfield, each pleaded guilty to two charges of ill-treating a patient.

'Appalling cruelty'

Charlotte Justine Cotterell, 21, from Yate, and Neil Ferguson, 27, of Emerson Green, each pleaded guilty to one charge of ill-treating a patient.

Sooaklingum Appoo, 58, of Downend, pleaded guilty to three charges of wilfully neglecting a patient.

And Kelvin Fore, 33, from Middlesbrough, pleaded guilty to two charges of wilfully neglecting a patient.

Image caption Campaigners against the abuse of people with learning disabilities gathered outside the crown court

Dame Jo Williams, chairman of the Care Quality Commission, said: "We are committed to do all we can to protect vulnerable people - and we apologise to patients at Winterbourne View, and their families, for our failure do so quickly enough in this case.

"Following a thorough internal review, we have made changes to strengthen our processes and to ensure that we are better placed to prevent abuse."

Beverley Dawkins, policy manager for the learning disability charity Mencap, said: "These were appalling acts of cruelty and the evidence was very powerful."

She said it had been an "extremely emotional experience" for the victims' families to see the abuse on a television screen.

Steve Sollars, 49, from Bedminster, Bristol, who had a son at Winterbourne View prior to the Panorama investigation, attended the court hearing.

He said: "It's taken so long to get here and it's still not over yet. Maybe when they've been sentenced we can draw a line under this.

"I hope they give the maximum possible sentence there is as a deterrent to others so this won't happen again."

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