BBC Home > BBC News > England

Care worker's killer is sentenced

22 April 09 15:08 GMT

A man who was found to be unfit to enter a plea after killing a care worker has been sentenced to indefinite custody in a mental health unit.

Kathleen Bainbridge, 58, of Luton, died on 24 August 2007 after being stabbed at the Abacus Nursing Home, Dunstable.

Stephen Flatt, 55, a resident of the home, was charged with her murder but was ruled unfit to enter a plea.

At a trial of issue at Luton Crown Court on Tuesday, jurors ruled Flatt did kill her.

On Wednesday, Flatt, who is being held at Rampton Hospital, was sentenced to indefinite detention at a mental health unit and will be returned to the hospital.

Three investigations

Three investigations have started into the case including a Central Bedfordshire Council inquiry into the care home.

The Health and Safety Executive is investigating Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Trust - which placed Flatt in the care home - and the Trust has also started an internal investigation.

As well as killing Ms Bainbridge, of North Drift Way, Luton, Flatt also tried to kill her colleague, Barbara Hill.

On Tuesday, Judge John Bevan QC raised questions about how a mentally ill man came to be placed in a residential care home.

He said: "There are questions here which cry out for an answer, for example, what on earth Stephen Flatt was doing in plainly wholly unsuitable premises?"

The evidence revealed that Flatt had a long history of mental illness and had been cared for in hospitals and institutions mainly in the St Albans area.

He was diagnosed with a bipolar disorder and was unable to care for himself.

But in July 2007, it was decided that he was well enough to be moved to Abacus House in Prince's Street, Dunstable.

The privately-run home normally housed up to six residents who suffered from brain injuries.

The staff had not been trained to deal with psychiatric or aggressive patients, and expressed their concerns about Flatt being moved there, said Beverley Cripps, prosecuting.

Flatt himself said he was unhappy there and Mrs Bainbridge had told her husband that she was scared of him.

Five weeks after being admitted he took a knife from a kitchen and stabbed Mrs Bainbridge twice, severing two arteries.

Related BBC sites

*