Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

Fifteen more people charged over alleged abuse of Devon learning disability care home residents

Jan Tregelles MencapDevon and Cornwall Police has charged 15 more people over alleged offences relating to three learning disability care homes in Devon, bringing the total number charged in the case to 22.

These arrests follow on from October 7 when 7 people were charged with conspiracy to falsely imprison and conspiracy to ill-treat vulnerable adults residing in their care homes. Devon and Cornwall Police have also announced that these 7 were senior managers of Atlas Project Team Ltd.

All of the charges relate to allegations surrounding the treatment of 11 residents at 3 care homes run by Atlas Project Team Ltd (Veilstone, Gatooma and Teignmead) in Devon between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2011. All the homes have since closed.

The following 15 people appeared at Exeter Magistrates Court on October 28. All 15 were summoned to court today as part of Operation Baddeck and have now been charged with the offences below.

 Sarah Eke, aged 40; Aaron Jones, aged 32; Alison Palmer, aged 41 and Dawn Bond, aged 46, all from Holsworthy and all charged with false imprisonment

 James Lawson, aged 39 from Bideford – charged with false imprisonment and ill treatment

Natasha Stapleton, aged 40 from Torrington – charged with false imprisonment

 Simon Beechey, aged 38; Julie Barlow, aged 50 and Lisa Pluckrose, all from Bideford and all charged with false imprisonment

Chloe Massey-Caines, aged 25 from Bristol – charged with false imprisonment

Mark Pilbrow, aged 35 from Barnstaple – charged with false imprisonment

Lee Farrant, aged 29 from Bideford – charged with false imprisonment and ill treatment

 Lucy Cawsey, aged 26 from Holsworthy – charged with false imprisonment and ill treatment

 Christine Kent, aged 55 from Okehampton – charged with false imprisonment

Camilla Cameron, aged 23 from Holsworthy – charged with false imprisonment and ill treatment.

A further 2 people have been summoned to appear at Exeter Magistrates Court on November 4.

Detective Inspector Steve White from Devon and Cornwall Police said: “This case in unique in terms of the number of suspects, the complex needs of the victims and the volume of investigation material. It has and continues to involve many partners and agencies and we will all continue to work together to support those affected as this judicial process continues.”

All 22 people now charged appeared at Exeter Magistrates Court on October 28 and were bailed to appear at Exeter Crown Court on November 21.

“Shocking allegations”

In response to the latest charges, Jan Tregelles (pictured), chief executive of the Royal Mencap Society and Vivien Cooper, chief executive of the Challenging Behaviour Foundation, said: “We want to see a full and thorough investigation into these serious allegations. Anyone responsible for the abuse of people with a learning disability must be properly held to account.

“These further charges are deeply concerning as they show the extent of the shocking allegations across a number of services run by the Atlas Project Team Ltd.

“We must send a clear message that abuse and neglect will not be tolerated in our society and that anyone involved – from front line staff to the board room – will be held to account. Questions must also be asked about the role of commissioners and the care regulator [Care Quality Commission].”

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