Last of Winterbourne View Defendants Pleads Guilty

06/08/2012

Today, Michael Onyema Ezenagu, 28, from White City, London, entered guilty pleas to two counts of ill treating a patient at Winterbourne View Hospital in Bradley Stoke, Bristol.

Ten other people, all previous employees of Winterbourne View Hospital, have already pleaded guilty to a total of 34 charges of ill treatment and neglect, bringing the total charges to 36. All eleven defendants will be sentenced at a later date.

Ann Reddrop, head of the Crown Prosecution Services South West Complex Casework Unit, said: "Safety and security, and the ability to live free from fear and harassment, are fundamental human rights The kind of offending that took place at Winterbourne View undermined these rights in an appalling and systematically brutal way. 

"The CPS has treated these as disability hate crimes, which we regard as particularly serious. Disability hate crimes are based on ignorance, prejudice and hate. Disabled people can be victims of crime due to their perceived vulnerability, particularly where there is an unequal relationship, such as where the perpetrator is the victim's carer. At Winterbourne View, people who should have been able to trust their carers had that trust cruelly and repeatedly abused.

A criminal investigation was launched by Avon and Somerset Police last year following a safeguarding alert from BBC Panorama describing the ill-treatment of patients at the hospital.

A Serious Case Review was commissioned by South Gloucestershire Adult Safeguarding Board in July 2011 to understand what took place at the hospital, to identify lessons to be learnt and make recommendations for further action. The independent chair of the Serious Case Review will announce her findings tomorrow (7 August).

Head of Avon and Somerset CID, Chief Superintendent Louisa Rolfe, said: "I wish to acknowledge the support and patience of the victims and their families throughout our inquiry. We were shocked by the Panorama programme, as many people were.  The voice of the victim has been central to our investigation into this case.

"The investigation has always been about the criminal actions of eleven individuals working at Winterbourne View. The Serious Case Review which will be published tomorrow will consider all other concerns regarding this hospital.

"The eleven individuals abused the trust of victims and that of their relatives and friends. They have all pleaded guilty to criminal offences of ill treatment and neglect as detailed within the Mental Health Act.

"Had it not been for the actions of individuals who raised concerns about the neglect and cruelty suffered by the victims at Winterbourne View, this wholly unacceptable behaviour would have continued unchecked."