Somerset Care Home Manager Charged With Murdering Three Residents

The manager of a Somerset care home has been charged with murdering three of her elderly residents. Rachel Baker, 44, a registered nurse, was charged in connection with the deaths of Francis Hay, Marion Alder and Lucy Cox at Parkfields care home near Glastonbury. She is also facing 11 counts of possessing a controlled drug, thought to be morphine.

Mrs Baker and her husband Leigh, 50, who jointly ran the home, are both charged with perverting the course of justice. Both have been bailed and are due to appear before South Somerset Magistrates Court on February 6th.

Detective Superintendent Trevor Simpson said that it was a complex case and thanked bereaved families for their patience. It involved the exhumation of the bodies of three residents that were removed for tests and examination by a Home Office pathologist.

“This has been a complex, thorough and necessarily lengthy investigation to bring us to this point. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those involved and those affected, the communities in Somerset and especially the families of the bereaved for their understanding, tolerance and patience,” he said.

Mr and Mrs Baker, from Glastonbury, were first arrested after the death of resident Lucy Cox, 97, on New Year’s Day 2007. Later that year police exhumed the bodies of Nellie Pickford, 89, Marion Alder, 79, and Fred Green, 81.

The Commission for Social Care Inspectorate (CSCI) closed the home, at Butleigh, in March 2007.

An inspection on January 24 found that standards, which were previously judged to be high, had dropped worryingly. Police were alerted and residents were rehoused by social services.

CSCI was highly critical of record keeping and paperwork at the home in connection with the seven deaths, which took place over a two-year period.

The couple had managed the accommodation that housed up to 20 elderly residents in flats and bungalows for more than a decade. It is now under new management.

Neighbours of the Bakers, who live in a quiet suburban street in Glastonbury and have a young daughter, described the couple as “lovely people”.

Gary FitzGerald, Chief Executive of Action on Elder Abuse, said, “My heart goes out to the three families of the victims. This is a totally despicable case. Those entrusted to care for the victims have been charged with the murder of three pensioners. From their actions with little or no remorse. All too often vulnerable older people are placed in the care of individuals who don’t have the skills or intentions to do the job properly. Ultimately residents Marion Alder, 79, Lucy Cox, 97, and Francis Hay paid with their lives. 

“It took the horrendous case of Baby P to bring greater investment and revised laws to bridge the shortfalls in child protection and it is now time that Government and Society afford the same and equal response for these three victims and the many other Granny P’s faced with sub standard care, neglect, abuse and death by indifference.

“AEA commends CSCI, Police and the CPS in their efforts to gain justice for the victims and their families but I should also highlight that unlike the situation in care homes where there are legal standards and inspectors, there is no similar legal system to provide you with protection if you organise your own care or if the abuse comes from a family friend.  These protection systems are under-funded and lack the necessary powers to ensure adequate protection for many people – which is why we see so many horrendous cases constantly coming to light.”