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CQC: Care home fined £300,000 for failing to protect residents from ‘sexual predator’

In a prosecution brought forward by the CQC, a care home provider has been slapped with a £300,000 fine for allowing a man with a history of sexual assault the freedom to prey on vulnerable people.

Hillgreen Care Ltd was prosecuted for failing to protect those in its care and exposing them to the risk of sexual abuse. The inspectorate brought the case against the provider for not providing constant one-to-one supervision that was required for the unnamed man.

As well as the fine, district judge Susan Williams awarded the CQC £141,000 in costs.

During the hearing, she concluded that there was a “woefully inadequate system of care” in place at the care home, adding: “There was a failure to provide appropriate care and a high level of culpability because the risks were well known to the company.”

While the care home was subject to insolvency proceedings, judge Williams argued that this should not affect the sentence, with the fine serving to “mark society’s condemnation” of Hillgreen’s failure to protect its residents.

During the hearing in Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court, judges heard that an autistic man was assaulted at the Enfield care home when there were only two care staff on duty to look after six people. One of the residents, described as ‘non-verbal’ and with limited mental capacity, was also followed up to his room by the defendant – who had been under Hillgreen’s care for 10 years – and allegedly raped.

Although the incident was eventually reported to police, partly due to the victim’s mental capacity and lack of evidence there was never any formal prosecution.

Paul Greaney QC, who represented the CQC, said the defendant is a “predatory and opportunistic sex offender with a risk to both sexes.” There have been numerous allegations involving vulnerable adults and children made against him dating back to his childhood, and expert witness Dr Neil Sinclair argued it should have been obvious to Hillgreen that there was an extremely high risk of further offences.

If proper monitoring had been in place, the alleged attack would have likely never happened, Dr Sinclair added. But care workers who gave evidence during the hearing claimed they had never been given any instructions about watching the defendant – and one even revealed she had walked in on him assaulting another service user in 2015.

Andrea Sutcliffe, the CQC’s chief inspector of adult social care, welcomed the judgement: “As the judge has made clear, Hillgreen Care Limited utterly failed in their duty of care for the people they were responsible for supporting.

“It has taken a long time to bring this prosecution to a conclusion but the outcome proves that it has been worth the effort and dedication of CQC's inspection and legal teams. Providers should be clear that if people are exposed to harm through their failure of care we will take every step we can to hold them to account.”


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