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Thursday, 26 July, 2001, 15:56 GMT 16:56 UK
Nurses jailed for abusing pensioners
Blackmill Centre
Blackmill Care Centre in south Wales
Two senior managers at a south Wales nursing have been jailed for prolonged and systematic and distressing abuse of elderly patients.

Isla Irving - convicted of seven charges of ill treatment and one charge of wilful neglect on eight patients at the Blackmill Care Centre in Bridgend - wept as the judge told her she had abused the trust of elderly, mentally infirm patients.

Karen Morrell
Karen Morrell guilty of wilful neglect

Her colleague Karen Morrell, the home's general manager, was also jailed for one offence of wilful neglect.

Earlier this month a jury at Cardiff Crown Court heard how Irving of Abergarw Road, Brynmenyn, had subjected patients to prolonged, systematic and distressing abuse and had "deliberately tried to wind them up" for her own amusement.

A registered mental nurse, she was just 25 when she was promoted to care manager at the Blackmill nursing home.

She overdosed one patient with a sedative, and asked an unqualified carer - a former handyman with no medical experience - to inject a 76-year-old diabetic man with insulin.

On other occasions, she cruelly teased other mentally infirm patients.

The nurse also neglected the request of a resident to be taken to the toilet, and was found guilty of rough handling, verbal abuse and taunting patients.

The community places a considerable trust in those who have the care of the elderly and mentally infirm

Judge David Wyn Morgan
Morrell - her 35-year-old supervisor 35, Victoria Road, Aberkenfig, Bridgend - failed to stop Irving's ill treatment, and neglected her duty when she failed to ensure that an elderly man with two fractured ribs was taken to hospital.

The judge, David Wynn Morgan said he accepted it was not a campaign of cruelty but that they were both inadequate and had abused the trust of vulnerable patients.

Sentencing them each to four months in prison, he said: "The community places a considerable trust in those who have the care of the elderly and mentally infirm.

"In this case that trust has been abused by both of you.

'Considerable pain'

"This court treats very seriously indeed elderly and mentally infirm patients being given overdoses of drugs, of their being administered injections by people who are not qualified to do it and to the degree of care that's expected of them simply being forgotten and patients waiting for several days, in considerable pain, before being treated in hospital."

The United Kingdom Central Council of Nurses is also conducting its own investigation into the case.

Another registered mental nurse, Steffan Spedding, 28, of North Cornelly, near Bridgend, worked alongside Irving and Morrell at the Blackmill Home and was also accused of abusing patients there.

He admitted six charges of ill-treating patients at Blackmill and will be sentenced on Friday.

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See also:

18 Jun 01 | Wales
Care home boss denies abuse
08 Sep 99 | Health
Elderly abuse: Case study
08 Sep 99 | Health
Care home standards: The reaction
16 Jul 99 | Health
What is long-term care?
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