Nurses And Carers Walk Free In Newbridge Case

EIGHT nursing home workers were yesterday cleared of the wilful neglect of an 84-year-old woman at a residential home after the prosecution dropped the case.

Gladys Thomas was found to be suffering from a fractured collar bone and rib, and extensive bruising, when she was admitted to hospital in October 2005. She also had a ligature mark around one of her forearms, the width of the lead of a plug.

Miss Thomas had been living at the Bryngwyn Mountleigh Nursing Home in Newbridge for just over a month when her injuries were discovered by staff at the Royal Gwent Hospital, Newport. She died eight days later.

After nearly three weeks of evidence at Newport Crown Court, the Crown Prosecution Service announced they would not be seeking guilty verdicts for any of the defendants.

The decision allowed Evan Green, 35, of Fairwater, Cwmbran; John Sunday Ajewole, 53, of Victoria Terrace, Newbridge; Ebeneezer Ajiwe, 48, of Woodland Terrace, Abercarn; Peter John Booth, 35, of Penyfan Close, Newbridge; Tahir Hayat, 30, of Coldra Road, Newport; Angela Johnson, 37, of Hector Avenue, Crumlin; Shibu Joseph, 32, of Gaer Park Drive, Newport; and Debra Richards, 45, of Brynawel, Bedwas, to walk free from court.

John Barry Alder, a qualified nurse at the home, has already pleaded guilty to neglect on the basis of not administering Miss Thomas the correct medication. He will be sentenced this week.

Outside court, Miss Thomas’ family said they were “extremely disappointed” by the outcome.

In a statement, Mervyn and Esme Williams said: “It is with deep regret but with firm belief we can say that many people who have loved ones in care homes cannot guarantee that they will be getting the proper care they should receive.

“It is a worry for all of us.

“On behalf of all these people, we are now demanding a meeting with the Care Standards Inspectorate for Wales and a member of the Welsh Assembly to raise our concerns.”

During the hearing, Gerard Elias QC, prosecuting, said the Crown had weighed evidence from all sides in making its decision.

“The case originally … was suggestive of a number of separate episodes of trauma with bruising apparent within the usual time frame,” he said.

“The evidence and information now available suggests that it is possible that one episode of trauma caused the fractures and that the bruising is a direct result of the fractures and not of additional episodes of trauma to the body.

“Further, and importantly, expert opinion cannot say when the bruising which resulted from the fractures would have become apparent as a warning sign that something was wrong internally.

“Also, the ‘skin deep’ nature of the bruising means that, in itself, it is unlikely to have caused Gladys Thomas any additional pain or suffering.”

He said they could not realistically invite a jury to conclude there had been wilful neglect.

The trial had been expected to last up to six weeks with evidence from dozens of witnesses.

It came as part of a major Home Office-funded investigation in-to alleged care home abuse across South Wales called Operation Jasmine, which has 59 officers and staff dedicated to it, and is supported by a dozen public bodies including the Care and Social Services Inspectorate for Wales, the General Medical Council, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Health and Safety Executive, North Glamorgan and Gwent NHS Trusts and the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

A spokesman for the CPS said: “This has been a painstaking investigation carried out in good faith.

“We should make it clear that this evidence has only been available since April 2008 and as such the medical issues have changed significantly and could not have been foreseen before the start of the trial.”