Ex-officer calls for police to reopen case of two disabled care home residents
A retired detective who helped bring two of Stephen Lawrence’s killers to justice is calling on police to reopen the investigation into two disabled care home residents who were seriously injured in unexplained circumstances.
Clive Driscoll, who worked for the Metropolitan Police for 30 years, has joined forces with a campaign group launched on Friday by families of relatives who died or were hurt while in West Sussex care homes.
Those involved include relatives of disabled men Matthew Bates and Gary Lewis, who were taken to hospital broken legs while living at Beech Lodge care home in Horsham in April 2015.
Mr Lewis, who was 63 at the time, and Mr Bates, who was then 30, both have cerebral palsy, have been unable to walk or talk since birth and are “totally reliant” on others for care.
A safeguarding review found they may have been “deliberately hurt” and a “cover-up” could not be ruled out.
The families raised concerns about “disturbing revelations” highlighted in the report released earlier this year – including the eight-day delay in informing police of the incidents and that a man believed to be a member of agency staff, who tended to one of the residents around the time of the injuries, turned out to have a “bogus identity” and has still not been tracked down.
A police investigation was closed and the circumstances remain unexplained. Although the company which runs the care home is now subject to a separate police probe into the deaths of residents at its establishments.
Speaking to Press Association, Mr Driscoll said so far the families were not convinced the police had done everything possible to investigate.
He said: “On the face of the evidence I have seen there appears to be real concerns about the standard of care.
“The families do not believe they had a fair and independent investigation and it appears the police have not convinced them this has happened.
“The police could say they will have another look at it or give a really in-depth explanation into what they did.
“The sticking point for me is the man with the bogus identity. You can’t have someone using a bogus identify close to vulnerable people and [in the investigation] not finding out who he is. So far they have not been able to say they have done everything to find out who he is.”
He said he “believed” in the care home system but standards were “incredibly important”, adding: “I’d like to work with the police.”
The group – called the Harmed in Adult Care Alliance (HACA) – was set up amid the ongoing police investigation into 13 deaths at care homes run by Sussex Healthcare and after the 2011 scandal of Orchid View near Copthorne which became known as Britain’s worst care home when a coroner reviewing 19 deaths found “institutionalised abuse”.
Martyn Lewis, Gary’s brother, urged more families to join the campaign in a bid to continue the “battle for justice” amid claims authorities including Sussex Police, West Sussex County Council and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) had failed to take sufficient action.
Mr Lewis said the group will consider a class action because of a “common theme” between the cases – that all the families cited allegations of collusion, failings in safeguarding and attempts to suppress information.
He added: “We have sought the help of MPs but they are all worrying too much about Brexit at the moment to see what is happening on the ground.
“There’s no family representation for what is going on in adult social care and that is what this group is for.”
The police, council and CQC have all been contacted for comment.
To join the campaign visit www.haca-westsussex.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org.