Court told of cruel treatment at Winterbourne View care home
A WORKER at a care home threatened to scrape off a patient's face with a cheese grater and cut her with a razor.
A court heard secret filming captured support worker Wayne Rogers verbally abusing the woman before pulling her hair, slapping her and leaving her shivering in the cold outside.
In one filmed incident, he asked the patient: "Do you want me to get a cheese grater and grate off your face? Get a razor, cut you up?"
Rogers, of Purton Close, Kingswood, yesterday became the first of 11 staff from Winterbourne View residential hospital to have his case scrutinised in a week-long mass sentencing at Bristol Crown Court.
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Families and friends of both the defendants and their victims packed into Court Seven where, for the first time, prosecutor Kerry Barker detailed what was described as the "inhumane, cruel and hate-filled treatment" of the adults with learning difficulties who had been placed in the care of hospital operator Castlebeck by the NHS.
Mr Barker said that although the hospital near Bradley Stoke, which opened in 2006, was supposed to provide services relating to learning disability, nursing and psychiatry, the majority of staff were unregulated support workers who were not subject to any code of conduct or minimum standards.
Mr Barker said it was clear Castlebeck and its senior managers had little or no interest in the care and welfare of patients at Winterbourne View, concerns of relatives and patients were brushed aside and the motivation was simply money.
Mr Barker said: "Sadly, as demonstrated by what the court is about to see, those agencies responsible for the inspection and oversight of what was happening to patients at Winterbourne View failed to fulfil their responsibilities despite numerous warnings and indicators of the inhumane, cruel and hate-filled treatment of those patients."
The court heard that residents Simone Blake, Simon Tovey, Louise Bissett, Louisa Deville and Lorraine Guildford had all been left scarred by abuse they had suffered.
Acting on a tip-off, undercover journalist Joseph Casey undertook specialist training provided by the BBC and started work at the hospital, secretly recording discussions and events and making a video diary and notes after his shifts.
The court was shown secret filming of Rogers abusing Simone Blake by pinning her down with a chair, grabbing her hair and slapping her.
After threatening to assault her with a cheese grater and a razor, he was shown to grab her hair, pull her head back and told her: "Stop dicking around. OK?"
Miss Blake swore at him and threatened to tell the police, but the slapping went on and at one stage Miss Blake was shown to be left lying outside in the cold, shaking. At this point Rogers accused her of feigning a seizure, because her legs were not shaking.
When Rogers was interviewed by police in May last year, after the footage was shown on the BBC's Panorama programme, he initially made no comment but admitted his actions after being shown the secret filming. He said no one had taught him techniques for dealing with difficult patients and accepted he had overstepped the mark on a lot of occasions.
Rogers, 32, has pleaded guilty to nine charges of ill-treating patients Louisa Deville, Simon Tovey and Simone Blake.
Giles Nelson, defending, said his client was a man of previous good character, with a daughter.
He said Rogers had worked as a carer for three years, without complaint, before starting his £16,500-a-year job with Castlebeck.
Mr Nelson said: "He genuinely doesn't recognise himself on that footage."
Mr Nelson said his client had felt pressurised at the hospital, working 12-hour shifts over three days without a chance of three meals a day and no debriefs or breaks after incidents.
"He felt isolated," Mr Nelson said. "His recommendations to management were ignored , his recommendations of skill-sharing were ignored and he felt exacerbated.
"He was keen initially but he became disillusioned over time."
The court heard that, with an over-stretched staff, an "atmosphere of conflict" developed.
Mr Nelson said: "He utterly lost self-esteem and then seemed to behave in the most disgraceful way.
"His pre-sentence report shows great insight in his behaviour now. This was a caring man but he didn't manage the situation.
"It was an odd mix of cruelty and kindness, how he de-humanised the patients within the unit."
Mr Nelson asked for any prison sentence for his client to be lowered to reflect his guilty plea.
Eight other support workers and two nurses at the hospital have admitted their roles in abuse of residents.
• Michael Ezenagu, 29, of Malabar Court, India Way, London, who pleaded guilty to two counts of ill-treating Simone Blake.
• Graham Doyle, 26, who pleaded guilty to seven charges of ill-treating Simone Blake.
• Jason Gardiner, 43, of Mellent Avenue, Hartcliffe, who admitted two charges of ill-treating Louisa Deville and Simon Tovey.
• Danny Brake, 27, of Beechen Drive, Fishponds, who pleaded guilty to two counts of ill-treating Miss Blake and Mr Tovey.
• Sookalingum Appoo, 59, of Dial Lane, Downend, who admitted three charges of wilfully neglecting Miss Blake.
• Alison Dove, 25, of Chipperfield Drive, Kingswood, who pleaded guilty to seven charges of ill-treating Lorraine Guildford, Louise Bissett and Miss Blake.
• Holly Draper, 24, of The Old Orchard, Mangotsfield, who pleaded guilty to two charges of ill-treating Miss Blake.
• Charlotte Cotterell ,22, of Melrose Avenue, Yate, who pleaded guilty to one charge of ill-treating Miss Blake.
• Neil Ferguson, 28, of Emersons Green, who pleaded guilty to one count of ill-treating Miss Blake.
• Kelvin Fore, 33, of Middlesbrough, who pleaded guilty to one charge of wilfully neglecting Miss Blake.
Rogers asked to be remanded in custody, as did Dove, pending sentencing of all defendants on Friday.
The case continues.