An undercover BBC reporter captured 200 hours of covert footage at Whorlton Hall care home

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A reporter captured 200 hours of footage while undercover as a care worker in Whortlton Hall, County Durham. The footage shows the defendants tormenting a distressed patient who was seen screaming and hitting herself as staff encouraged the behavior, or threatened to remove female staff.

Olivia Davies worked in Whorlton Hall, located near Barnard Castle, for several weeks after concerns were raised about the quality of care being given to the vulnerable residents.

Giving evidence at Teeside Crown Court, Davies said she had undergone training with Cygnet Health Care, the company that ran the centre before taking the job in December 2018.

According to the prosecution, six men and three women were caught on camera abusing their positions.

Miss Davies said she filmed a video diary after every shift at the home for patients with complex medical needs, which has since been closed down.

She told the jurors how she worked 12-hour shifts on the unit five or six days a week until she left at the beginning of March.

Jurors have previously watched a 17-minute video clip of Matthew Banner and Peter Bennett allegedly aggravating the patient by talking about balloons, the woman could be heard screaming in distress as the two carers knew that it was a trigger for her behavior.

Miss Davies was cross-examined by Josh Normanton, representing nurse Karen McGhee, about the 200 hours of footage she captured and her video diaries.

Miss Davies admitted that the care plans for the patients were a ‘grey area’ as some of their conditions were so complex, it would have been impossible to record them all.

The witness admitted that she had not written anything in the patient’s notes about her becoming distressed when she was being observed by two men.

Mr Normanton asked: Wasn’t that a breach of your obligations as a support worker? To which, she replied: “No.”

The accused, that face a total of 27 offences after the reporter used a hidden camera at the 17-bed independent unit for people with complex needs in January and February 2019, are as follows:

John Sanderson, 25, of Cambridge Avenue, Willington, faces two charges of care worker ill-treatment or wilful neglect of an individual on February 2 and 25, 2019.

• Darren Mark Lawton, 47, of Miners Crescent, Darlington, by virtue of being a care worker, allegedly ill-treated or wilfully neglected a patient on January 27, 2019, and faces the same charge relating to a different patient on February 2.

• Niall Mellor, 26, of Lingmell Dene, Coundon, Bishop Auckland, is accused of the ill-treatment or wilful neglect of a patient on two occasions on January 20 and 24, 2019.

• Sarah Banner, 33, from Faulkner Road, Newton Aycliffe, stands accused of three charges of ill-treatment or neglect of a female in her care on January 24 and of a male patient the following day.

• Matthew Banner, 43, of the same Newton Aycliffe address, faced six charges all relating to the same patient at Whorlton Hall on separate occasions between January 6 and February 22.

• Ryan Fuller, 27, from of Deerbolt Bank, Barnard Castle, faced ten charges of ill-treatment or wilful neglect against six different patients January 19 and February 2.

• Sabah Mahmood, 27, of Woodland Crescent, Kelloe, is accused of, by virtue of being a care worker, ill-treating or wilfully neglecting a male patient on January 4, 2019.

• Peter Bennett, 53, of Redworth Road, Billingham, faced three charges in total relating to two female patients, on January 6 and February 24.

• Karen McGhee, 54, from Wildair Close, Darlington, faced a total of four charges relating to a male and a female patient which were all said to have happened in January 2019.