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Nurses among Winterbourne View guilty

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Eleven people, including two nurses, have now pleaded guilty to ill treatment of patients at Winterbourne View hospital for people with learning difficulties.

The final defendant, Michael Ezengu, had been due to stand trial on five charges of ill-treating two patients at the now closed South Gloucestershire hospital on Monday, but changed his plea during an appearance at Bristol Crown Court.

He admitted two of the charges and the Crown Prosecution Service chose not to pursue the remaining three.

Mr Ezengu is the last of 11 former workers from the privately run hospital, including nurses Kelvin Fore and Sookalingum Appoo, to plead guilty to a total of 38 charges of the ill treatment of patients at the home.

Sookalingum Appoo, 58, of Dial Lane, Bristol, admitted three charges of wilfully neglecting a patient. Kelvin Fore, 33, of Ellesmere Walk, Middlesbrough, pleaded guilty to one charge of wilfully neglecting a patient, but denied a second allegation against the same person.

A serious case review, commissioned by South Gloucestershire Adult Safeguarding Board in July 2011, will report tomorrow. It is likely to criticise the Care Quality Commission for initially ignoring the concerns raised by another nurse working at the home Terry Bryan.

Mr Bryan eventually contacted BBC’s Panorama programme, which exposed the shocking treatment experienced by some of the residents at the home for people with learning disabilities.

CQC chair Dame Jo Williams said the regulator had made it easier for whistleblowers to contact them and recognised that the high risk nature of institutions like Winterbourne View meant they should respond swiftly to any concerns raised.

Head of Avon and Somerset CID, detective chief superintendent Louisa Rolfe, said: “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.”

All of the 11 will be sentenced together in the coming weeks.  

Ann Redropp, head of the Crown Prosecution Service’s complex case team, said the service would be inviting the judge to use his powers under Section 146 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 permitting the handing down of longer sentences where disability discrimination had been an aggravating factor.

She said: “The CPS has treated these as disability hate crimes, which we regard as particularly serious. Disability hate crimes are based on ignorance, prejudice and hate… At Winterbourne View, people who should have been able to trust their carers had that trust cruelly and repeatedly abused.”

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