‘It’s all lies,’ care home trial told

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A FORMER Scarborough care home manager accused of covering up abuse against elderly residents said ex-colleagues were deliberately lying to “get back at him”.

Terence Bennett, of Duncombe Close, told Teesside Crown Court that staff at the Elsinor residential home had fabricated allegations making out he had protected former employee Tina Gillespie, 31.

Gillespie – the daughter of his partner – was jailed for nine months last year after pleading guilty to common assault and ill-treatment charges.

Bennett, 60, a former police officer, denies one charge of perverting the course of justice after allegedly “pressurising” carers into changing their statements over a number of incidents at the home in Esplanade Gardens when fee-paying residents received various injuries.

Bennett – who bought the Elsinor in 1989 and owned it until 2005 before being appointed its manager – is accused of producing falsified documents, making out that he had been carrying out a thorough investigation into the allegations, when in fact he only started after Social Services intervened.

Bennett, who left his role in January 2010, told the court he had actually met with concerned staff members – two of whom have also now left the Elsinor – and typed up dictated statements in their presence on his computer which they accepted as accurate accounts of events.

However, the court was told Bennett had in fact “bullied” staff into authorising these details as their own version of events and only changed tact when Social Services called an emergency meeting with him and the police.

The meeting followed an anonymous phone call regarding abuse in the home – believed to have been made by a former employee sacked by Bennett – which he said was the catalyst for the allegations to begin.

He said: “They are telling lies.

“He had made this allegation in order to get back at me because I had fired him.

“It did cross my mind that it was because of the behaviour of a member of staff but nobody had said anything.

“I had problems with her in relation to her timekeeping and using her own personal computer at work.

“But my belief was that she was a good carer, nobody from the staff had ever come to me and said otherwise.

“I was a little bit upset by the fact that that my honesty was being called into question after 20 years in the same job.”

The court was told Bennett asked staff for hand-written versions of the incidents after the meeting on advice of the police but continued to put employees under pressure to dispel the allegations.

Prosecuting, Matthew Bean said: “This is an out and out lie that you are telling.

“You attempted to force two staff members to produce hand written reports that would clear her and cover up what she was doing.

“One of the men gave you a lengthy account in which he described her telling him she had a fight with a resident and your response was to give it back laughing.

“Once the investigations began you took a number of steps in order to cover up what happened – you created false, misleading typed statements.

“You presented these statements at a meeting but when they were rejected you went on to put pressure on staff and bully them to create hand-written accounts in order to achieve that end.

“Having had a clear warning across your bows from the police about allowing hand-written accounts, you continued to put pressure to create false evidence rather than take that advice on board.”

The care home is now under new ownership.

The trial continues.