Learning disability charity Mencap has responded to the sentencing of two care assistants, who have been jailed for the mistreatment of severely disabled patients in their care at the Solar Centre in Doncaster.
“The sentences handed down today mark the end of a 6-year fight for justice by the victims and their families, exposing shocking abuse of people with a learning disability.
However, this case raises serious questions about why the abuse went unreported for so long, and why it was so delayed in coming to court. Lessons must be learnt from this and all agencies involved need to address what went wrong to make sure vulnerable people are not let down again.
Too often, hate crime and abuse against people with a learning disability goes unreported or ignored and never makes it to court. This case, and the sentencing of the eleven care workers at Winterbourne View last year, shows that society will not tolerate these crimes and that abusers will be brought to justice.”
The court heard Murphy, who is a mother and grandmother, and Hinds, who is a former miner, had been a couple for seven years and had had to endure a campaign of vigilante action against them.
The judge was told that masked raiders had broken into Hinds's house, bludgeoned him across the head and stabbed him in the ribs.
Murphy was also stabbed, her barrister told the court, and the pair had to flee from Doncaster to Spain.
Earlier, Iain Hillis, defending Hinds, said his client had worked at the centre since 1997 and said he had always tried to protect more vulnerable staff members from more violent patients. He said Hinds had spent years caring for his patients.
"He was working under very difficult circumstances," Mr Hillis said.
Two care assistants who have been jailed for more than two years were found guilty of of the ill-treatment of extremely vulnerable adults, with limited communication abilities and a range of physical disabilities including blindness.
All the incidents of abuse by James Hinds, and Susan Murphy happened in a period between January 2005 and March 2007.
Hinds was convicted of 10 charges and acquitted of a further nine after the jury of five men and seven women deliberated for two days.
Murphy was found guilty of 15 charges and was cleared of a further five.
Hinds and Murphy were found guilty of a total of 25 counts of ill-treating outpatients at the Solar Centre, at St Catherine's Hospital in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, by a jury at Sheffield Crown Court earlier this year.
They were found guilty of ill-treating 12 different outpatients between them.