Care assistants guilty of 'appalling abuse of trust'

James Hinds and Susan Murphy were convicted today at Sheffield Crown Court. Credit: Press Association.

Two care assistants who abused severely disabled patients were convicted today of "an appalling abuse of trust."

James Hinds and Susan Murphy were found guilty of systematically ill-treating 12 out-patient patients at a mental health unit in Doncaster, South Yorkshire.

Hinds, 59, and Murphy, 43, were found guilty of a total of 25 counts of ill-treating outpatients at the Solar Centre, at St Catherine's Hospital, by a jury at Sheffield Crown Court.

ITV News Correspondent Martin Geissler reports:

Many of the attacks involved patients being slapped and hit around the head.

Hinds threw one man into a wheelchair, dragged another to the toilet and hit another with a microphone.

Murphy locked one woman in a cupboard, the court heard.

The Solar Centre is run by Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust (RDaSH).

Outside court, Dr Nav Ahluwalia, executive medical director for RDaSH, explained the trust had apologised for Hinds' and Murphys' actions, adding:

The trust took immediate action as soon as we were made aware of the situation in 2007 and worked with South Yorkshire Police in their investigation into this matter. The trust has implemented improvements to the learning disability service at this centre to minimise the risks of such incidents happening again. We will not tolerate staff mistreating service users and have reinforced our channels of communication to ensure that staff, service users and carers report suspected abuse so that we can take action.

Following the pair's conviction, Detective Chief Inspector Natalie Shaw, who led the South Yorkshire Police investigation, said: "I am pleased we have finally been able to hold those responsible to account and hope this result will bring closure for the victims and their families and they can try to move forward with their lives."

The pair are to be sentenced at a later date.