£11.6m care homes case scuppered by Newport doctor's "savage beating"
A DOCTOR who was facing a string of charges relating to neglect and fraud at Gwent care homes will not go on trial after a "savage beating" left him brain damaged, a court heard.
After a seven-year operation costing £11.6 million and involving 75 police staff, 4,126 statements, 10,534 exhibits and 49,222 pieces of documentation weighing around 12.52 tonnes, neither Dr Prana Das, 66, nor co-accused Paul Black will go on trial.
Das was a director of Puretruce Health Care Limited, which was responsible for care homes throughout South Wales. Yesterday, prosecutor Andrew Langdon QC told Cardiff Crown Court that on September 9, Das and his wife Dr Nishebita Das, who attended yesterday's hearing, were involved in an incident in their home in Catsash, Newport, which left him with a "severe, traumatic brain injury."
He added: "He was the victim of a savage attack which caused bleeding to the brain."
The court heard Das' injuries means he suffers with cognitive weakness and reports compiled by doctors at Rookwood Hospital, Cardiff, where he is being treated, said he is not fit to stand trial and it is "highly unlikely" he will ever recover enough to be tried.
Mr Langdon said this meant the company could not be tried and a trial for Black, of Ash Grove, Upton St Leonards, Gloucester, is not being sought as his alleged role "was so much less than his co-accused" and it would be inappropriate to try him alone.
Judge Neil Bidder said: "These are unhappy circumstances for everybody concerned in this case. The circumstances of this case cause tremendous disappointment, upset and distress."
He ordered the charges against both men to lie on file. Should Das' condition improve and he becomes fit to stand trial, proceedings can be re-started.
* Edward Donovan, 50, of Windmill Square, Commercial Road, Newport, and Rhiannon Gibbons, 27, of Chepstow Road, Newport, deny grievous bodily harm with intent of Das and assault of his wife, They will go on trial later this month.
Puretruce Health Care was charged with two counts of failure to discharge a duty to ensure residents at Brithdir Care Home were not exposed to risks to their health and safety.
Das was charged with two counts of consenting or conniving to a failure to discharge a duty as a director at Puretruce, these failures being attributable to neglect, He was also accused of theft relating to three cheques totalling £23,080.65 due to Woodstock Limited for work carried out, and four counts of false accounting totalling £314,656.65.
Black was charged with two counts of consenting or conniving to a failure to discharge a duty as a manager at Puretruce, these failures being attributable to neglect, between. He faced two alternative charges of failure to discharge a duty relating to competence, sufficient nursing cover, training, staff monitoring, adequate records and sufficient equipment.
Gwent Police Deputy Chief Constable Jeff Farrar said last night: “Today’s court hearing is the latest in a series of hearings and cases which have taken place over the years. Our aim throughout the investigation has been to seek the truth and secure justice.
"This investigation has been the most complex and challenging multi agency investigation ever undertaken by Gwent Police. It has also been the most professional and thorough investigation I have overseen in my 30 years of policing.
"Throughout the investigation we have endeavoured to support the families and we will continue to offer support to them. Our thoughts remain with them at this difficult time."
OPERATION Jasmine was established on October 19, 2005 after Gladys Thomas, 84, a patient at Bryngwyn Mountleigh nursing home in Newbridge, was admitted to Newport's Royal Gwent Hospital after being given incorrect doses of medication. She died on October 27.
A qualified nurse at the home pleaded guilty to neglect on the basis of not administering Ms Thomas the correct medication.
Eight carers and nurses were charged with willful neglect relating to injuries on the pensioner's body but the prosecution dropped the case three weeks into the trial in 2008.
Blaenau Gwent MP Nick Smith is demanding a review into the case.
He said: "My main concern is that while Operation Jasmine may have established what happened in care homes in South Wales during the period under investigation; it may not deliver justice for the elderly victims of alleged abuse. I want to see the full force of the law marshalled on behalf of the victims.
"I'll contact the CPS and Director of Public Prosecutions to demand a review of the very long process leading up the path to nowhere."
OPERATION JASMINE KEY FACTS
SIX care homes investigated:
• Bryngwyn Mountleigh, Newbridge
• Brithdir Care Home, Bargoed
• The Beeches Blaenavon
• Belmont, Caerphilly
• Grosvenor Care Home, Abertillery
• Bankhouse, Ebbw Vale
* 74 Suspects, 52 arrested, 20 charged
* 75 police officers and staff worked the case
* 103 alleged victims, 63 of whom have died since the beginning of the operation
* 4,126 Statements
* 10,534 exhibits
* 49,222 pieces of documentation weighing approximately 12.5 metric tonnes
* £11.6 million total spend on Operation Jasmine - £8.5m Home Office and £3.1m Gwent Police