Muckamore Abbey scandal: PPS to prosecute seven staff over alleged abuse of patients

Seven people are to face court proceedings over alleged ill-treatment of patients at a specialist hospital in Co Antrim for adults with serious mental health and learning difficulties.

Friday, 16th April 2021, 12:59 pm
General view of Muckamore Abbey Hospital in Antrim. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) has today confirmed decisions have been taken to prosecute the seven individuals reported on one police file for offences alleged to have been committed at Cranfield Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit at Muckamore Abbey Hospital.

The decision has been welcomed by the PSNI.

Allegations surrounding the mistreatment of patients at the hospital have been a major scandal for some time and in September last year following a lengthy campaign by patients’ families, Health Minister Robin Swann announced that he would order a statutory public inquiry.

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The PSNI investigation into the allegations has been ongoing for some time and was described as one of the largest of its kind in UK history.

It is understood seven suspects were reported on the file received by the PPS from police in April 2020, while a further eight suspects were reported on a second investigation file received in December 2020 which remains under consideration.

PPS Assistant Director Martin Hardy said: “The PPS has taken a decision to prosecute seven individuals in relation to alleged ill-treatment of patients at Muckamore Abbey Hospital.

“This decision follows a thorough consideration of all the evidence in an investigation file received from police in April 2020.”

He continued: “The seven individuals are being prosecuted for a range of offences including the alleged ill-treatment and wilful neglect of patients contrary to the Mental Health (Northern Ireland) Order 1986.

“We have written to the families of the affected patients this morning to inform them of the decisions.

“A second investigation file received from police in December 2020 in relation to alleged ill-treatment at the hospital remains under active consideration.

“Decisions will issue in due course after a thorough consideration of all the available evidence.”

He added: “We acknowledge how difficult this process has been for the patients and their families, and we recognise the great dignity that they have shown. We will continue to engage with them and ensure they are kept informed as the process continues.

“As proceedings will soon commence as regards the seven individuals, it would be inappropriate to comment any further.”

The head of the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Public Protection Branch, Detective Chief Superintendent Anthony McNally, said: “The decision by the Public Prosecution Service to prosecute seven people for a range of offences in connection with the alleged ill-treatment of patients at Muckamore Abbey Hospital today is significant progress in this police investigation.

“This has been a very detailed and complex investigation and we will continue to work closely with the PPS, who have written to the families involved to make them aware of the decision to prosecute seven people for a range of offences including ill-treatment and wilful neglect contrary to the Mental Health (Northern Ireland) Order 1986.”

He added: “Our specially trained officers will continue to provide support to the families whose loved ones are at the centre of this investigation. From the outset we have been committed to working closely with them, with the aim of keeping them as informed as much as we possibly can and we will continue to do so. The protection of our most vulnerable is a priority for the Police Service of Northern Ireland.”