Care home provider Hillgreen Care Limited has been hit with an enormous fine of £300,000 plus costs over failures to supervise a service user with a history of sexual assaults, resulting in an alleged rape.
The prosecution was brought by the Care Quality Commission, which accused the company of failing to protect those in its care by providing one-to-one supervision of the individual, who was referred to in proceedings as XX for legal reasons.
No representative for Hillgreen – which is currently undergoing insolvency proceedings – was present at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court to hear the case.
District Judge Susan Williams condemned the “woefully inadequate system of care” at Hillgreen’s Colne Road, Enfield home, warning: “There was a failure to provide appropriate care and a high level of culpability because the risks were well known to the company.”
The court was told that, in incidents dating back to 2015, an autistic man was assaulted at the Enfield home by XX when there were only two members of staff on duty. In addition, another service user – with limited mental capacity – was followed to his room by XX and allegedly raped. Although the police were informed, no prosecution was brought forward due to lack of evidence.
Described by Paul Greaney QC for the CQC as “a predatory and opportunistic sex offender” – with a history of allegations involving vulnerable children and adults – XX had been under Hillgreen’s case for ten years at the time.
The CQC first inspected the Colne Road site in November 2015 following the alleged rape and began proceedings to cancel its registration in February 2016 – resulting in the home’s closure.
However, in July 2017 The Times newspaper alleged that the CQC had been involved in a “cover-up” of the sexual violence, leading to the then-CQC chief executive Sir David Behan commissioning an independent investigation into the situation.
Welcoming the court’s judgement, CQC chief inspector Andrea Sutcliffe said: “As the judge has made clear, Hillgreen Care Limited utterly failed in their duty of care for the people they were responsible for supporting. YY should never have been exposed to the potential of sexual abuse from XX and the impact on him and his family is heartbreaking. My thoughts are with them today.
“It has taken a long time to bring this prosecution to a conclusion but the outcome proves that it has been worth the effort and dedication of CQC’s inspection and legal teams. Providers should be clear that if people are exposed to harm through their failure of care we will take every step we can to hold them to account.”
Even though Hillgreen is subject to insolvency proceedings, Judge Williams ruled that the fine serves to “mark society’s condemnation”. She also awarded costs of £141,000 to the CQC.
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