Nine former members of staff at an independent hospital in County Durham – including two from Newton Aycliffe – are to appear in court in relation to allegations of abuse.
Six men and three women have been summoned to court to face charges relating to alleged physical and psychological abuse at Whorlton Hall, an independently-run learning disability/autism hospital, near Barnard Castle, specialising in care for vulnerable patients.
Each of the accused will face a charge, or multiple charges, of Ill Treatment or Wilful Neglect of an Individual by a Care Worker (under Section 20 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015).
The accused are:
• Sara Banner, 31, from Newton Aycliffe
• Matthew Banner, 41, from Newton Aycliffe
• John Sanderson, 24, from Willington
• Darren Lawton, 46, from Darlington
• Niall Mellor, 24, from Bishop Auckland
• Ryan Fuller, 26, from Startforth
• Sabah Mahmood, 26, from Kelloe
• Peter Bennett, 52, from Darlington
• Karen McGee, 53, from Darlington
All nine are scheduled to appear before Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court on November 9.
The charges follow a long-running investigation by Durham Constabulary – codenamed Operation Sarto – into allegations of abuse of patients at the hospital reported in a BBC Panorama documentary in 2019.
Detectives investigating the case have worked through a significant amount of complex material relating to the patients who were cared for at the hospital and there has been detailed consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service.
From the outset of the investigation, the police have also worked closely with a range of safeguarding agencies to ensure that the patients were safely accommodated and receiving appropriate care. Professional support has been offered to patients and their families.