Six of the 11 people who admitted 38 charges of abuse at the former Winterbourne View private hospital have been jailed. The remaining 5 have received suspended sentences.
The charges were filed after evidence of abuse was uncovered by a BBC Panorama investigation, broadcast in May 2011. Secret filming showed a culture in which residents were routinely taunted, kicked, slapped and pinned down by staff members.
At the sentencing hearing at Bristol Crown Court, Judge Neil Ford QC said there was a “culture of cruelty” at the care home, no attempt was made to provide a caring environment and if the abuse had not been uncovered by the BBC, it would have continued.
Judge Ford added that the Castlebeck-run Winterbourne View had been “run with a scandalous lack of regard to patients and staff”.
Ringleader Wayne Rogers was jailed for 2 years after admitting 9 charges of ill treatment.
Others jailed were Alison Dove and Graham Doyle, who both received 20-month sentences for 7 counts of abuse.
Holly Draper was jailed for a year after pleading guilty to 2 charges of abuse.
Finally, nurses Sookalingum Appoo and Kelvin Fore were each jailed for 6 months for wilfully neglecting patients.
Those given suspended sentences were:
• Daniel Brake and Michael Ezenagu, who both pleaded guilty to 2 charges of abuse and were given a 6 month sentence suspended for two years and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work
• Michael Ezenagu also admitted 2 charges of abuse and was also given a
• Charlotte Cotterell pleaded guilty to 1 charge of abuse and was given a 4 month sentence suspended for 2 years. Cotterell was also ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work and complete 12 months supervision
• Neil Ferguson admitted 1 count of abuse and was given a 6-month jail term suspended for two years and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work
• Jason Gardiner admitted two charges of abuse and was given a 4 month sentence suspended for 2 years and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.
Learning disability charities Mencap and The Challenging Behaviour Foundation issued a joint response welcoming the sentencing, saying that is sends a clear message that the abuse of vulnerable people with a learning disability will not be tolerated.
“This must never happen again. Yet it is clear that the system is failing people with a learning disability, who are being sent away to institutions often hundreds of miles from home, where they remain for years, at increased risk of abuse and neglect,” the statement added.
Mencap and The Challenging Behaviour Foundation are calling on the Government to drive through the closure of these institutions, and commit to developing local services so people with learning disabilities can live near their families in their local communities.