36.10

Care home pair guilty of neglect

29/06/2010

A care home owner and her manager gravely let down the elderly people in their care, said Ruth Bowskill, Senior District Crown Prosecutor for CPS Hampshire & Isle of Wight, after the convictions of Annette Hopkins and Margaret Priest for the ill-treatment and neglect of several residents.

Ms Bowskill said: The treatment received by residents at The Briars care home in Bitterne Park, Southampton, was far below what they deserved and they were gravely let down by the owner, Annette Hopkins, and manager, Margaret Priest, who had a duty of care but who denied any wrongdoing.

Southampton Crown Court heard how residents of The Briars were left in soiled sheets for lengthy periods of time, were found to be underweight and suffering painful bed sores.

The jury considered 13 offences of ill-treatment and neglect contrary to section 44 of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 against Annette Hopkins, 64, and Margaret Priest, 56. Annette Hopkins was found guilty on 10 charges and Margaret Priest was found guilty on four. An investigation into the home was triggered by staff at Southampton General Hospital and others after the admission to hospital of one of the residents.

Ms Bowskill said: All of the residents involved in this case were vulnerable and lacked the mental capacity to make decisions relating to their personal care needs. They totally relied on staff at The Briars, but some residents were found to be underweight, with gaps in their records relating to medication and food charts. This meant they were suffering pain and dehydration.

I hope this conviction sends the clear message that the CPS is committed to prosecuting crimes committed against older people in care homes, and as our Policy For Prosecuting Crimes Against Older People makes clear, to working with police, social services and healthcare professionals to bring those responsible to justice.

Where there is the evidence, the public interest will usually require a prosecution when the victim is vulnerable and the suspect is in a position of authority or trust.

Annette Hopkins and Margaret Priest will be sentenced later at Southampton Crown Court.

ENDS


NOTES TO EDITORS

  1. For further information contact CPS press officer Ben Harding on 020 3357 0918 (national media) or Jayne Littlefield on 02380 673804 (local media).
  2. Annette Hopkins and Margaret Priest  were each charged with 16 offences of ill-treament and neglect contrary to section 44 of the Mental Capacity Act 2005, each charge relating to a different victim.
  3. The DPP has published his long term vision for the prosecution service and its role within the wider criminal justice system. It includes modernising the service and increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of criminal justice - read The Public Prosecution Service: Setting the Standard at www.cps.gov.uk/pps
  4. The CPS consists of 42 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). These are organised into 12 Groups, plus CPS London, each overseen by Group Chair, a senior CCP. In addition there are four specialised national divisions: Organised Crime, Special Crime, Counter-Terrorism and the Fraud Prosecution Service. A telephone service, CPS Direct, provides out-of-hours advice and decisions to police officers across England and Wales. Further information can be found on our website: www.cps.gov.uk
  5. The CPS, together with ACPO and media representatives, has developed a Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media.  This sets out the type of prosecution material that will normally be released, or considered for release, together with the factors we will take into account when considering requests.  The Protocol is published on our website at: http://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/agencies/mediaprotocol.html