Director denies mistreatment at care home

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The Independent Online
A director of homes for mentally disabled people accused of ill- treating residents told yesterday how she left the homes and never went back after the allegations were made.

Angela Rowe was now being treated for depression and anorexia, Kingston Crown Court, Surrey, was told. Jonathan Caplan, QC, for the prosecution, said the homes, Stoke Place Mansion House and Stoke Green House in Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire, were more like an army camp than residential centres.

Mrs Rowe, with former members of staff Desmond Tully and Lorraine Field, denies claims by other former workers and relatives that residents were ill-treated.

The jury was directed by Mr Justice Baker not to be further concerned with four of the 16 charges. They were two charges of ill-treating residents made against Mrs Rowe and one charge of ill-treatment by Mr Tully and a similar charge against Mrs Field.

This leaves Mrs Rowe, 39, whose last given address was in Windsor, Berkshire, facing two counts of ill-treating residents at the homes run by she and her late husband, Gordon, between 1983 and 1993. She is also accused of two counts of wilfully neglecting residents.

Mr Tully, 33, of Exeter, Devon, and Ms Field, 42, of Stoke Poges, each now face four counts of ill-treating residents at the homes.

The court has heard that if Gordon Rowe had not committed suicide last year, he would have faced charges as being "principally responsible" for what allegedly happened in the homes. Opening the case for the defence, Stephen Kramer, QC, for Mrs Rowe, said they were "fencing at shadows, because what is alleged is alleged over such a long period and so long ago."

He said Mrs Rowe denied allegations of ill-treating a resident, who had Down's Syndrome, by forcing her to eat outside, even in the cold, and of pulling the hair of another resident. She also denied there were inadequate toiletries and toilet paper for the residents.

The court heard that Mrs Rowe, one of a family of 16, first met Rowe when she was 10 and he was mental-welfare officer for her father. When Rowe set up a home for the mentally disabled in Somerset in 1979, he phoned Mrs Rowe, then 22, and asked her to join him as housekeeper. In 1983 she moved with him to Buckinghamshire, where they ran Stoke Place Mansion House and then later Stoke Green House. They married in 1989.

Mrs Rowe was a director of the management company, Longcare, with 40 per cent of the shares, and was on the certificate of registration with Buckinghamshire County Council for Stoke Green House. But, questioned by Mr Kramer, Mrs Rowe said she knew nothing about what being a director meant and had not even known until coming to court that she was named in the registration. She had had nothing to do with the business of the homes or with the education and training programmes but was, as in Somerset, a "glorified house-keeper."