Four care staff convicted of mistreating people with learning disabilities at hospital

Five workers cleared following trial into abuse uncovered by BBC Panorama at now-closed Whorlton Hall hospital in Durham

Dictionary, definition of the word abuse.
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Four workers have been convicting of mistreating people with learning disabilities in their care, following the trial into abuse at a hospital uncovered by a BBC investigation.

Matthew Banner was convicted of five charges of ill-treatment of a person in his care, while Peter Bennett and Ryan Fuller were each convicted of two charges and John Sanderson of one count of the same offence.

The four care workers were convicted of the offence of ill-treating a person they have the care of, by virtue of being a care worker, under section 20(1) of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015.

All four worked at Whorlton Hall in Durham, where an undercover Panorama reporter filmed footage of people with learning disabilities and autistic people being abused by care workers in 2019. The provider, Cygnet Healthcare, which acquired Whorlton Hall the previous year, closed the hospital later in 2019.

Five other staff members – Sarah Banner, Karen McGhee, Niall Mellor, Darren Lawton and Sabah Mahmood – were found not guilty of all charges, following the trial at Teesside Crown Court.

Banner, Bennett, Fuller and Sanderson are due to return to court on 7 July for sentencing.

Following their convictions, Detective Chief Superintendent David Ashton, of Durham Constabulary, said: “We hope that the successful prosecution of the defendants in this case sends a clear message that the abuse of vulnerable people in specialist care settings will not be tolerated.”

He said he also hoped it would encourage those concerned about abuse in care settings to speak out and report it.

For full coverage of the Whorlton Hall trial, see George Julian’s blog. She live tweets and blogs about coronial inquests and court cases involving the deaths or abuse of people with learning disabilities or autistic people.

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