Thirteen convicted over Devon care home abuse

Thirteen people have been convicted after an inquiry into abuse at two care homes for adults with learning disabilities.

Residents at Vielstone near Bideford, in Devon, were routinely punished by being held in empty rooms without food, heating or a toilet, a court heard.

Staff left vulnerable residents in the rooms, often overnight, during 2010 and 2011 as an abusive culture developed.

Manager Jolyon Marshall was jailed for 28 months.

He was jailed for conspiracy to falsely imprison and perverting the course of justice.

Twelve other people, including other staff members and Marshall’s wife, were convicted of the “organised and systemic abuse” of disabled residents after a series of trials at Bristol Crown Court.

More on the punishment room trials and other Devon and Cornwall news

‘Imprisoned against will’

During the trials, the directors and staff were accused of creating a culture whereby residents were left in the rooms more than 1,000 times with no furniture or a television for hours at a time.

The incidents took place at both Vielstone and its sister home Gatooma near Holsworthy.

Prosecutor Andrew Langdon QC said staff tried to correct residents’ behaviour as if they would train an animal.

He said: “The prosecution say that each of them was effectively imprisoned in that room against their will.

“It was not a one-off but organised and systemic abuse of people with learning disabilities – vulnerable members of society who were residents in homes that were meant to care for them.”

The rooms were known as either the “garden room” or the “quiet room”.

Mr Langdon said: “Whatever the original purpose, these two rooms were used by staff to control – perhaps to even punish – residents at a time that was not only unacceptable by professional standards of care but was also quite unnecessarily cruel.”

One man, who cannot be named, spent 195 sessions in the “quiet room”, including 13 overnight stays.

His mother said the treatment was “barbaric, disgusting and unnecessary,” and that she tried to flag up the problems.