Care home cover-up: Sentence for boss

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A FORMER Scarborough care home manager who covered up abuse against elderly residents has escaped a jail sentence.

Terrence Bennett, 60, was yesterday sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for two years, after being found guilty of perverting the course of justice.

Terrence Bennett

Terrence Bennett

Bennett, of Duncombe Close, was convicted at Teesside Crown Court last month after producing false documents to mask incidents against four pensioners at the Elsinor residential home, in Esplanade Gardens, to protect carer Tina Gillespie.

Gillespie, 31, was jailed for nine months after admitting common assault and ill-treatment charges.

Bennett – who owned the Elsinor between 1989 and 2005 – appeared at York Crown Court for sentencing, with Judge Stephen Ashurst telling him his actions had brought “disgrace and shame” upon himself.

Mitigating, Andrew Haslam said Bennett, a former police officer, was a respected figure, who had tainted his reputation with an “error of judgement”.

He said: “He started a relationship with Tina Gillespie’s mother but with the benefit of hindsight he regrets that when members of staff were coming to him telling him of what they knew of her conduct he ought to have stopped her employment and allowed the authorities to take action against her.

“Put simply, he did not want to lose his relationship and out of misguided loyalty he tried to help Tina Gillespie out.

“The effect of his foolish action was profound on him.

“He has lost his name, his reputation and his employment.

“This is a one off error of judgement on his part.”

Mr Haslam added Bennett’s woes had previously been compounded by the break-up of his marriage, but said his integrity had never before been called into question.

He added: “It is clear that members of residents’ family thought very highly of him when he was first in his employment and when his mind was on the job the business was successful.”

Judge Ashurst - who also ordered Bennett to carry out 200 hours unpaid community work - told Bennett he could no longer “hold his head up high” following his actions.

He said: “Your judgement was clouded by your relationship with Tina Gillespie’s mother though there is no evidence you were complicit in any abuse to residents.

“You put pressure on three members of staff to put forward edited statements which created a very bland account and you knew that in doing that, that would have an effect on an enquiry.

“You are left with a sense of disgrace and shame in the community.

“In the past you have relied on people accepting your word as being but you have yourself to blame for the actions you did.

“It will take some time before you can hold your head up high in the community.”