Winterbourne View care workers appear in court for sentencing
ELEVEN former care workers at the now infamous Winterbourne View private hospital in Hambrook are due to be sentenced for abusing and tormenting vulnerable adults in their care.
All 11 have pleaded guilty to scores of charges of ill-treatment and neglect, which were uncovered by the BBC’s Panorama programme in early 2011.
Michael Ezenugu, 29, of White City, London, Alison Dove, 25, of Chipperfield Drive, Kingswood, Wayne Rogers, 32, of Purton Close, Kingswood, Neil Ferguson, 27, of Guest Avenue, Emersons Green, Sookalingum Appoo, 58, of Dial Lane, Downend, Kelvin Fore, 33, of Ellesmere Walk, Middlesborough, Jason Gardiner, 43, of Mellent Avenue, Hartcliffe, Graham Doyle, 25, of Bradley Road, Patchway, Daniel Brake, 27, of Beechen Drive, Fishponds, Holly Draper, 23, of The Old Orchard, Mangotsfield and Charlotte Cotterell, 21, of Melrose Avenue, Yate were all in the dock in Court 7 at Bristol Crown Court on Monday.
They each spoke to confirm their names before the packed courtroom, which was full of relatives of patients at Winterbourne View, watched one-and-a-half hours of footage showing Rogers, a senior support worker who admits 10 charges, carrying out sustained physical restraint with a chair on a female patient.
The distressing scenes also showed Rogers, a father-of-one who previously worked with foster children, tormenting patients, slapping them, wrestling them on the floor, throwing water over them and leaving one shivering on the ground outside.
Prosecuting, Kerry Barker, said: "The culture at the hospital was one of bored, un-stimulated patients and staff corralled on the upper floor where the use of illegal physical restraints was commonplace.
"The so-called restraint techniques were used to inflict pain, humiliate patients and bully them into compliance with the demands of their carers.
"Ill-treatment of patients for the main part went unrecorded and unreported. Where it was reported it was ignored by managers and senior staff. Patients who threatened to complain were often silenced by further bullying."
Undercover reporter Joseph Casey, a journalist for the BBC, introduced the footage and confirmed to the court who was seen in each scene. Members of the public were visibly upset as the uncut scenes were played out. Some defendants held their heads in their hands and did not look at the two screens showing the footage.
Giles Nelson QC, defending Rogers, said his client was of previous good character and had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.
He said: "How he ended up behaving like he did is something he has been trying hard to reflect on over the last 16 months. He genuinely does not recognise himself in that footage."
He said Winterbourne View owners Castlebeck had left staff ‘disenchanted’ and that had made Rogers ‘dehumanise’ patients in his care.
"He told police he felt isolated," said Mr Nelson. "He had started out very keen but became disillusioned over time. The pressure of the situation had affected him beyond any self-regulation and he became part of the atmosphere that spread like a disease through that unit. He resorted to the abuse of patients as he did not know how to cope."
Mr Nelson said Rogers, whose partner was said to be standing by him, had mixed kindness with cruelty.
He added: "He accepts there was a culture here and he played his part. But he does not accept he was motivated by hostility based on patients’ disabilities. Hostility was exhibited towards patients with disabilities but not because of those disabilities. He did not choose this line of work in order to target people with disabilities."
The court will hear the charges relating to the remaining 10 defendants this week, with sentencing due to take place on Friday.
Rogers and Dove requested to be remanded into custody. The other nine were released on conditional police bail.