sussex

Justice sought for disabled men hurt in care in Sussex

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X-ray images of injuries suffered by two disabled men while in care have been released as their families launch a legal campaign for justice.

Matthew Bates and Gary Lewis both sustained fractured thighs in 2015 at a home run by Sussex Health Care.

Their families want to raise £10,000 for a review of evidence.

They say it shows gross failure and misconduct within authorities including West Sussex County Council and Sussex Police.

Mr Lewis, who was 64 at the time and died earlier this year, and Mr Bates, then 30, both had cerebral palsy and limited communication.

Mr Lewis had a complete split of his left femur and Mr Bates suffered a severe mid-shaft fracture to his right thigh at Beech Lodge in Horsham.

Mark Bates, Matthew’s father, said the men “were dreadfully let down” and their “life-threatening injuries” remained unexplained.

“Five years on we’ve been left in limbo and have been continually met with a wall of silence,” he said.

Martyn Lewis, Gary’s brother, added: “Neither Gary nor Matthew could scream, run away or tell of what happened. Nobody has ever been held responsible for the injuries or how they were caused.

“Nobody should suffer injustice, and our legal case seeks to achieve this by bringing those responsible to account and changing behaviour.”

Sussex Health Care, which runs Beech Lodge, is at the centre of a separate police investigation into nine homes over allegations of a lack of care of 43 people, 13 of whom have since died.

Mr Bates and Mr Lewis are not part of the investigation, although Beech Lodge is one of the nine homes.

It emerged this week that a second investigation into the provider was launched over concerns of mistreatment and a lack of safeguarding.

Both families hope to raise £10,000 to begin a legal review of evidence ahead of a possible private prosecution.

In a statement they said: “We allege possible assault or at the very least negligence, misfeasance in public office and a violation of the men’s human rights, plus a comprehensive failure to discover what really happened.”

‘Families updated’

Sussex Police said there was insufficient evidence to recommend any criminal proceedings.

It added that an independent review of its investigation was held in 2019 and both families were regularly updated about its progress.

A spokesman said: “No further reasonable lines of enquiry have been identified that can help definitively establish how and when these men sustained their injuries.

“While the investigation is now closed, any new information that could lead to new lines of inquiry will be followed up.”

‘Findings accepted’

In August 2019, West Sussex County Council was ordered to apologise to Mr Lewis’s family.

A spokesman for the council said an independent review was carried out into both men’s cases in 2018 and “we fully accepted its findings and recommendations”.

The Safeguarding Adult Review said the men were probably poorly-handled at Beech Lodge.

A spokesman for Sussex Health Care, which has previously apologised, said: “Both cases were subject to comprehensive safeguarding investigations, involving the local authority and the police.

“We co-operated fully and openly with those investigations, which found no evidence of poor handling or any other wrongdoing.”

Source: BBC.COM

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