Patients were 'force-fed and bullied'

VULNERABLE patients at a Suffolk care home were force-fed and bullied by one of the owners who acted like a Victorian headmaster, it was alleged yesterday .

VULNERABLE patients at a Suffolk care home were force-fed and bullied by one of the owners who acted like a Victorian headmaster, it was alleged yesterday .

Reginald Collier, who was described as “eccentric and overbearing”, allegedly ill-treated four residents at the Beech Hall Residential Care Home in Depden, near Bury St Edmunds, over a four-year period, Ipswich Crown Court was told.

Staff at the home became increasingly concerned about the treatment of the residents and the police were eventually called in, said Jeremy Dugdale, prosecuting.

He described specific incidents of ill treatment which included a patient falling backwards off his chair while being force-fed and the same patient's mouth and nose bleeding while he was being force-fed.

You may also want to watch:

The same resident was allegedly left to sit in his room for long periods of time while other residents were allegedly verbally abused, physically struck, teased and tormented.

Another patient, who was described as being particularly targeted by Collier for ill treatment, was allegedly left screaming in pain after the defendant squeezed his arm where it had previously been broken.

Most Read

On another occasion the same resident was found to have bruising on his inner thighs after Collier took him into his private quarters, it was claimed.

Another patient was allegedly slapped and shouted at by Collier and showed fear when he entered the room, said Mr Dugdale.

Collier, 62, who lives in Derbyshire, faces three charges of ill-treating patients between January 1997 and May 2001 and one offence of assaulting a patient causing him actual bodily harm.

The court has heard that another jury has already found that Collier is not fit to stand trial because of health problems.

As a result Collier will not be taking part in the current proceedings and the jury in the present case would only have to decide if he had done the acts alleged against him rather than finding him guilty or not guilty.

Mr Dugdale told the court that Beech Hall Nursing Home had been run as a family business for 50 years and had been passed to Collier and his wife Valerie in 1975.

He said the jury would not be hearing from any of the patients, just staff who had allegedly witnessed Collier's ill treatment of them over a number of years.

He said that witnesses had described Collier as being “an eccentric and overbearing man” who acted like a Victorian headmaster. “People were impressed by his size, physical strength and volume,” said Mr Dugdale.

He said Collier was not known for his political correctness and he felt that he knew better than anyone else how to deal with the residents.

He claimed that at the time of the alleged offences Collier's marriage was having problems and he was drinking heavily and complaining of depression.

After his arrest Collier denied force-feeding residents and being aggressive towards them. He had initially denied any knowledge of squeezing a resident's arm but later said he had done it because a physiotherapist had suggested it.

Suffolk social services inspector Mike Usher said concerns were brought to his attention by staff in 2000 and he had received a letter from five members of staff expressing concern about Collier's behaviour towards residents and making allegations against him.

He said that while Collier and his wife were co-owners of the home she was the person responsible for the overall care of the residents.

Susan Evans, who worked at Beech Hall from 1987 to 1996, said when she left as deputy manager it had been because she was uncomfortable with Collier's behaviour towards residents. She agreed that she had once described him as “an overbearing bumptious pig”.

She said that his loud overbearing manner caused distress to patients but she felt he hadn't deliberately acted out of spite or malice.

She said she had seen a caring side to him when he had carried a frail resident from the home to a waiting ambulance rather than put him in a wheelchair.

Carol Williamson, a carer at the home, from 2000 to 2001 described seeing Collier and his wife holding a resident's arms while Collier forced food into his mouth. “He wasn't helping him, he was force feeding him. He and Val held his hands and kept putting food in his mouth. He couldn't do anything other than kick his legs under the table.”

She claimed that she saw Collier kick a footstool from under the feet of a resident and slap a man in his 70s on the head with such force that the man's head was knocked forward. She denied that this was done as a “loving playful cuff”.

Mrs Williamson claimed that Collier insisted that all seven residents used the same bathwater which resulted in the last in line having a cold bath.

The trial continues today .

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter