11 April 2023
The second defendant to give evidence to the court was Matthew Banner. He told the court that he was now 43 and asked by his counsel, Mr Constantine, whether he could confirm he was a man of good character he responded “certainly am, yes”.
Asked about his work experience and background before starting at Whorlton Hall in 2017, Mr Banner told the court that “many, many years before” around about 2004/2005 he’d had some experience “in this type of environment” and that “more recently prior to Whorlton Hall I’d been looking after an elderly gentleman with Alzheimers, and before that my mother who had MS”. Asked by Mr Constantine if he’d any experience of “working with people with diagnoses similar to those in Whorlton Hall” Mr Banner said just a small amount back in 2004, about two months worth. He told the court immediately prior to working at Whorlton Hall he was “a delivery driver for newspapers, used to deliver newspapers, but directly before that was my mother”. He delivered newspapers for three years.
Mr Banner told the court that in March 2017 he started working at Whorlton Hall as a support worker.
MrC: Did you have any training provided by Whorlton Hall, or those who owned it, at the time as to how to deal specifically with the type of service users, residents, patients, however you want to identify them?
MB: I call them patients as it being a hospital, but no, none really. We had generic sort of things with MAYBO course, but nothing that pin pointed.
Mr Constantine said that he wanted to focus on specifics and asked about autism training.
MrC: Did you have any training provided by Whorlton Hall, or those who owned it, at the time as to how to deal specifically with the type of service users, residents, patients, however you want to identify them?
MB: I call them patients as it being a hospital, but no, none really. We had generic sort of things with MAYBO course, but nothing that pin pointed.
MrC: Let’s specifically,
MrC: There seems to be a number of patients, who were said to have suffered from differing degrees of autism. Were there any specific training offered to you as to how to deal with such patients?
MB: On two occasions I had my name down for an autism course, both occasions my name was pulled out due to low staffing levels.
MrC: MAYBO you mentioned, that deals with restraint?
MB: That’s right, yes.
MrC: We’ve heard from other witnesses about different restraints, so you were trained in restraining people, but not in the levels before that?
HHHJ: What do you mean by level before that?
MrC: Secondary strategies, if that level if tertiary, let’s call this secondary, before we get to restraint. Secondary strategies, how to talk to people how to deal with them when they’re at an elevated level?
MB: Nothing at all
MrC: Did you have any qualifications in social care, mental health care?
MB: No. No qualifications.
Mr Constantine suggested that Mr Banner’s HR record suggested in a review that he asked for such training and he responded “yes, that’s right, I was keen to progress in the field I was in”.
Questioning moved on to staffing levels. Mr Banner checked whether Mr Constantine was asking about worst case scenario staffing levels or general staffing levels, and Mr Constantine asked for worst case first.
MB: Worst case scenario, you could be on response, have a patient 1-1 and another patient 1-1 and you could potentially have another patient who was 2-1, so you could have 3 patients and be on response, that’s when staff didn’t turn in.
MrC: Correct me if wrong, you could be looking after 3 patients, you Matthew Banner?
MrC: Two of whom would be 1-1
MrC: And you could be the second part of 2-1?
MB: I’d be the only one
MrC: And on response as well
MrC: So you may need to leave 3 patients to respond?
MB: Yes. One of the patients would generally stay in his room, he was patient who was in for sexually attacking someone, so if he opened his door then you had to be there. Another tended to stay in his room, but he could want to come out. Another was 2 to 1 and you had to get to his room if he opened it.
MrC: This worst case scenario, three people, I’m hoping you’re going to answer their rooms were adjacent, not dotted all over?
MB: Two were fairly close to each other, one by the nurses office, one just over the way, the other one was below Patient 1’s room, at the other end of the building.
MrC: That’s your worst case scenario?
MrC: Let’s talk normal scenario, what were staffing levels like?
MB: Think 22 staff all in all on a day shift, 50% agency. Some days could have 30% staff, some days 30% agency, very varied would change all the time.
In response to Mr Constantine’s questions the court heard that Mr Banner was promoted to senior support worker, which led to a 50p per hour raise, and that Mr Banner had no input into care plans which he said were done by nurses. Mr Banner told the court he’d never attended an MDT meeting, and had never accessed an advocate for anyone.
Asked by Mr Constantine if he’d ever seen the person centred statement document written by Stacey Barnes he said he couldn’t recall seeing it, and when he worked at Whorlton Hall he’d never seen it. He told the court that he wasn’t aware of the contents of the document and wasn’t certain where it was kept but he “knew Stacey used to take it home”. He told the court that Stacey Barnes was a Senior Support Worker, Level 3 and HHJ Smith asked for information on what the levels referred to.
Mr Banner told the court that if you started a senior job you’d come in as Level 2 and that “generally means you’re working towards NVQ Level 2” and Level 3 referred to NVQ Level 3.
MrC: You moved from healthcare assistant, support worker role and became a senior. Had you obtained any qualifications in order to gain that promotion?
MB: No none.
MrC: You’d been there a year or so?
MB: Ten months I think.
HHJ: 10 months as a support worker, then you were promoted to Level 2?
MrC: That wasn’t on the back of qualifications?
MB: No, the only way could get senior role is if had Level 2 or were working towards it.
MrC: Which begs the question how did you get your job?
MB: Because I was good at the job
When Mr Constantine suggested it might also be because Mr Banner was still there, he told the court that the turnover was “massive” and “if you were there six months you were a senior member of staff”, not in the job title, but in practice given the turnover.
Mr Banner told the court that as senior he was a responder, and was also responsible for looking after bite gear which was “very expensive” and would “sometimes go missing”. He kept an inventory of it and would check it each time he was in. He said he would also assist Mr Bennett with agency staff.
Mr Constantine asked about the role of responder and Mr Banner described his duties. Telling the court he’d not know what he was responding to until he got there. He told the court an attack alarm was pressed if there was “imminent danger to staff or other service users”. In response to a question from Mr Constantine, Mr Banner told the court that he’d not had any particular training in how to use different strategies.
MrC: How did you do it then, you’ve been a newspaper delivery driver, within 10 months working at Whorlton Hall you’re a senior support worker being called to people in danger. How did you deal with it?
MB: Looking back I’m not sure to be honest. A little bit of confidence mixed in with a little bit of bluff, mixed in with life experiences with children.. I know these aren’t children but I’ve dealt with children.
MrC: Did anyone every give you any assistance of what topics to talk about, what not to talk about?
MB: No was nothing like that. Nothing was really touched upon like that. You were just there to watch, that was basically it.
MrC: Peter Bennett when he gave his evidence talked about situation being time sensitive, he talked about talk swop, and talking about something different. What’s talk swop?
MB: I don’t know
HHJ: Thought swop?
MB: Those particular words don’t mean much to me, listen to it, see what he means, is trying to think of different things to help them think of different things. Trying to take away the thing in mind that’s leading to behaviour, you do this by throwing things at them… different things, years ago I read a book, talks about fight or flight, if you throw question at someone it stops them in the moment. You’d throw anything random out there.
Mr Constantine moved on to ask Mr Banner about his understanding about Patient 1’s preference for having females on observations and he told the court:
Just as it says in care plan, Patient 1 preferred to have females but I also had the understanding of when Patient 1 was unsettled she liked to have females because she could hurt them.
Asked how he dealt with responding when he knew Patient 1 had a preference for females he said that it “was our job, we had to go there, we had no other option but to go there”. He said there weren’t females to send.
Mr Constantine then asked about balloons, which are mentioned in the charges that Mr Banner faces.
MB: Patient 1, as far as I knew, had very few things she liked, was interested in. One was balloons, she’d made a costume with balloons, not just balloons, inflatables, made a dress with them
MrC: How did you know this?
MB: Because staff talked about it… staff talked about having to go shopping with someone wearing balloons all over them.
MrC: You get called when the attack alarm is activated, it’s a choice between secondary strategies, calm the situation down or restraint. If you choose to adopt secondary strategies as opposed to physical restraint, is there any point in antagonising someone?
MB: It defeats the actual object of why you go there in first place. Don’t know if can add this, the staff who were with Patient 1 before, if you think of it like a pyramid, primary and secondary they’ve tried them… primary, had lots of things could talk to them about, how day going, secondary a little more limited about what can talk about bring her back down. Tertiary is where we arrive, that’s where tertiary is at, the ladies have already been trying secondary themselves.
MrC: So the fact you attempt rather than just leap into restraint mode, the fact you attempt secondary strategies, is that why bother attempting, why not just jump on whoever you’re summoned to deal with?
MB: I can’t think of anything worse than jumping over people, restraining people. We were taught to restrain, was used quite commonly in Whorlton Hall… generally you got hurt, rather than the patient. I don’t think pinning a human being down should be an option, should be last stage thing where you have no other choice, so we’d always try to talk a person down or change path of what they’re thinking.
Mr Constantine then told the court that he didn’t want to show film clips, stating “I’ll not play any film clips, am sure Ms Richardson has hundreds up her sleeve she’ll play you”, and he suggested instead he would try to ensure the jury had the “whole context of the incident not just snippets here and there”.
He proceeded to take Mr Banner through the transcripts bundle, reading extracts to the court and asking Mr Banner to answer additional questions about context. Mr Banner agreed that they didn’t know when the film clips were taken because there’s no time on them. Mr Constantine asked Mr Banner why Patient 1 would have had her phone taken away from her and he told the court:
When Patient 1 was at a heightened state she could use the phone as a weapon, and she’d also use it to contact her mother asking for things… generally you don’t want that to go on, you want her to come back down and use white noise.
Asked why he’d said to Patient 1 that “you can’t go anywhere until you’re good” Mr Banner told the court because “you can’t take her anywhere in the home unless she’s settled, the end game of this is to get Patient 1 to calm down”.
Mr Banner then explained a conversation where he was discussing shaving his head and cutting his eyebrows. Asked if he’d summoned another defendant, Niall Mellor, to Patient 1’s room he said he hadn’t and when Mr Constantine asked him why he said to Patient 1 “here’s Niall, you have to be calm or he’ll stay as well”, Mr Banner told the court “A lot of it is a quick fix” and he says he was trying to calm Patient 1 down.
Mr Constantine referenced the conversation about “todger dodgers” and says it goes on, before asking who was the conversation between and whether it was aimed at Patient 1. Mr Banner told the court that it was between the staff members who were there at the time, and that it wasn’t aimed at Patient 1 and she wouldn’t be able to hear it.
MrC: Why couldn’t she hear it if just outside her room?
MB: She’d have ear defenders on usually… you could hear Patient 1 in the background, we were talking pretty quietly, I’d say was no way she could hear us.
After a number of further clarification questions Mr Constantine asked Mr Banner whether he’d been threatening Patient 1.
MrC: This charge relates to you threatening Patient 1 with prolonged use of male carers. When you said to Patient 1 on Niall’s arrival “now you’ve got three men” was that a threat?
MB: Absolutely not
MrC: Your reference earlier to not leaving until she calmed down, was that a threat?
MB: No. It was something we had to do, was informative, we had to stay until she calmed down.
Mr Constantine then asked further questions about Mr Banner’s understanding and memory of the context of Counts 3 and 4.
MrC: Then discussion between Karen McGhee and Patient 1, and Karen McGhee is saying “I’ve got two males to come up here, that’s what I’ll do”… Patient 1 says she’ll stop, Karen says you can have Matthew up here and Ryan up here. So you are told where you need to be?
MrC: Patient 1 says “I’ll stop so I can have my females”. Does that suggest, as far as you are concerned that Patient 1 has some understanding, by the use of that comment, that phrase, “so I can have my females” if she stopped this behaviour?
MB: I’d certainly say that would be the case.
Mr Constantine continues to read through the transcript, asking Mr Banner’s perspective.
MrC: You then make a comment about legal highs, what’s that?
MB: I don’t know, a lot of that where you’re talking rubbish or nonsense just to break such a surreal, hectic performance really. It’s not just patients you’re looking after, you’re also looking after staff who a lot of the time were scared of patients. I don’t know where that was going.
MrC: You continue “OK, you want two men do you” and Patient 1 responds “it’s bad isn’t it”… you say “Olivia is probably looking in her memory banks from 20 years ago and remembers weird”.
You say, I want to ask about this, a few comments later on “If she jumps out of bed and comes for us we’ll deck her, alright”. Explain your use, or meaning of the word decking her?
MB: Decking is not an official MAYBO term, otherwise meant put her on the floor. A lot of time with new staff and agency staff. Relaying to Milly, new staff, we have to have the balls to put her on the floor… deck is not an official term.
MrC: Another phrase, where people threaten to deck someone, is by punching them.
MB: Oh right
MrC: Did you not know?
Mr Banner told the court that the reason he said to turn the lights out was because it adds to lower the stimulus.
MrC: Patient 1 says “listen” and you say “no one is listening”. Is that a bit harsh?
MB: No. She’s attacked the women, I want Patient 1’s focus to be on me.
MrC: She says “Matthew”, you say “I’m not talking to you till you’ve calmed down”
MB: Yes. A lot of the time she’d say your name and then nothing.
MrC: You say “go tell Karen she needs three men here tonight”, then you say “four men, do we need to make it five?”
MB: Five is the number in a MAYBO hold, reason I’m adding to these numbers is trying to get behaviour to come back down, not trying to wind her up, but bring her down.
MrC: It might be suggested to you tomorrow morning, for someone with preference for females, why increase to four… do we need to make it five?
MB: To simply calm the situation down, if doesn’t calm down is men who’ll appear not women.
Mr Banner tells the court that he discussed balloons with Patient 1 because it was one of the few things she liked.
MrC: She says “no”, your response is “make that five men please”
MB: Yeh she’s clearly still unsettled
MrC: Then there’s an exchange between Olivia and Budgie. Your next comment is “six men now, we can keep going”.
MB: Exactly the same. Like I said earlier it’s not as though I’ve got any training in these situations, trying my best to get Patient 1 to calm down. And she does.
MrC: This clip ends with Patient 1 speaking on page 23, she says “Olivia” and you say “Olivia is not talking to you, if you have any questions I’ll answer them”. Why couldn’t Olivia answer?
MB: She’d just been unsettled with Olivia… so change of face, change of people, she’d been unsettled towards them, I was guy there, so had to come to me.
MrC: We then have Patient 1 saying the word electrical and you’re outside the room, according to the video gesturing, somebody thinks it’s akin to the DJ what were you doing?
MB: Lightening the mood for staff members who’d been attacked, out of eyesight of Patient 1. Might not be classed as fully professional.
After an afternoon break Mr Constantine took Mr Banner through three further counts. Mr Banner told the court that he would make up a cat story to tell Patient 1 to “take her mind off things”. He explained that when Patient 1 was unsettled “we try to do changes of faces, anything really”. Mr Constantine went through more of the transcript with Mr Banner.
MrC: So you mention here, these two pages, cats, getting rid of the girls, balloons, lyrics, Axl Rose, parents, then there’s some comment about Olivia knows she likes to muff dive. Who was that to?
MB: Well Olivia
MrC: Does Patient 1 eventually calm down?
MB: Ummm. I think she must do because I wouldn’t have left.
MrC: Would you leave if she was still agitated?
MB: No, I wouldn’t be allowed.
Mr Constantine discussed another part of the transcript from a video clip related to another count. He ends his questions about it by asking Mr Banner if he were referring to balloons to antagonise Patient 1 and he responds “no, that would be the last thing anyone would want to do”.
Asked why he was present at the incident relating to Count 7 Mr Banner said he guessed it was because Patient 1 was screaming. Asked by Mr Constantine if he was talking about balloons to others outside Patient 1’s room to antagonise her, Mr Banner says “No, I’m sure this is the clip where when I ask does she like balloons and Patient 1 says yes”.
Mr Constantine asks Mr Banner why he made no reply to the questions put to him in the first police interview, when he was represented by someone from the public defender service and he told the court that he was “advised by the professional” and it wasn’t a scenario he’d ever been in, “if the professional says no comment, I say no comment”. Mr Banner told the court that he was given the same advice on the second occasion which was advice he took.
Mr Constantine ended by asking Mr Banner if he was trying to be cruel to Patient 1, or if he ever ill-treated her and Mr Banner replied no to both questions, adding “never once did I try to be cruel to anyone”.
12 April 2023
Mr Constantine confirmed that he’d finished his examination in chief the previous day. There were no questions for Mr Banner from counsel for the other defendants, so it was over to Ms Richardson, for the prosecution.
In response to Ms Richardson’s questions Mr Banner told the court that himself and Mr Bennett were both seniors but Mr Bennett had worked at Whorlton Hall for longer than him. He said that he’d have talked to nurses or managers if he had a difficulty concerning a patient’s care plan. Ms Richardson asked about the working environment at Whorlton Hall and Mr Banner said it was an “Extremely stressful environment to work in. People tried to do their best. It wasn’t a job for a lot of people at all, yeh”. When HHJ Smith asked what he meant by that and whether he meant that it wasn’t a job that suited everybody, Mr Banner agreed saying “That’s right, most people who joined would leave”.
Mr Banner confirmed that he was trained in MAYBO.
MsR: A restraint is not the same as decking someone is it?
MB: Absolutely not.
Asked what he knew about Patient 1’s needs he told the court that “Patient 1 was an extremely complex lady with complex needs” and he continued that a lot of her needs she could not divulge and would be seen as aggressive behaviour. Asked by Ms Richardson what he considered his role was in relation to Patient 1 he told the court that he was supporting staff and that he tried to help patients in the long term for them to leave Whorlton Hall and move to assisted living. He said Patient 1 and her parents wanted that to happen and he said “we were successful in that, that’s where she went”. When asked by Ms Richardson if he saw it as part of his job to make fun of Patient 1’s problems, he told the court “I don’t believe I made fun of Patient 1’s problems”. When Ms Richardson repeated her question, he responded no.
Mr Banner told the court that he was “pretty much a responder during the last year at Whorlton Hall, if you were a senior you’d be on response”. He agreed that he was aware that Patient 1 had a preference for female carers. Ms Richardson played a video clip and asked Mr Banner how he thought it would assist Patient 1 to be told that he and Mr Bennett could not go anywhere until Patient 1 was good. Mr Banner told the court “because we couldn’t, she’s an adult, didn’t want to lie”.
Asked if he thought it would lower her anxiety levels he responded “potentially yes, because it did”. Ms Richardson pointed out it hadn’t worked because Patient 1 continued to scream and Mr Banner told the court that “you find in this environment a patient can go from 0 to 10 pretty quick and getting them to go from 10 to 0 isn’t pretty quick”.
A little later having shown a further clip, Ms Richardson asked Mr Banner how he felt that telling Patient 1 Niall Mellor would remain, would assist the situation and Mr Banner responded that you could see from the clip that it didn’t upset Patient 1 at all.
When asked by Ms Richardson about the appropriateness of discussing “todger dodgers, lesbians, mirrors and gashes” outside Patient 1’s room, Mr Banner said that he’s “not denying that was maybe the wrong place to talk about that”. When Ms Richardson suggested it was wholly inappropriate, Mr Banner said that he didn’t think it was wholly inappropriate, no, he was outside the patient’s room and what was needed in stressful work environments like this was a release.
When Ms Richardson asked Mr Banner if this was him being good at his job, talking about things he said he perhaps shouldn’t have been talking about in front of a patient, Mr Banner told the court it was outside Patient 1’s room and that as far he was concerned given it was not in Patient 1’s earshot, it wasn’t impacting Patient 1 or his job.
Ms Richardson showed another clip and asked Mr Banner what he’d meant by “She jumps out of her bed and comes for us, we’ll deck her”. He said it meant they’d put Patient 1 on the floor because she was probably going to attack, and he explained to the court that with new staff you could end up going into a MAYBO on your own. “Not an official term, decking, but you would put someone on the floor”.
In follow up, asked by Ms Richardson if he thought Patient 1 could hear what he said, Mr Banner agreed she could. Patient 1 was sitting on her bed, said Ms Richardson, how would it be helpful to deescalate the situation and keep her calm, by saying that? Mr Banner said it was not ideal.
Asked what his thinking was behind saying “tell Karen she wants three men on here tonight”, Mr Banner told the court that was how many men would be turning up, well maybe up to five men, if Patient 1 stayed unsettled. When Ms Richardson asked again what his thinking was behind saying that, Mr Banner responded that he was trying to “regain the situation” and that Patient 1 was unsettled and it didn’t state anywhere in her careplan not to do this and that Whorlton Hall was full of men.
MsR: You were trying to get a hold of the situation did you say?
MB: Trying get Patient 1 to calm down, worst case scenario it ends in PRN, restraint.
MsR: Your idea was to tell Karen needed three men, that would calm her down. It didn’t work did it?
MB: Nothing is instant. I don’t know if you’ve worked in care, you don’t get it to stop in an instant.
MsR: If it didn’t help with three men, how did it help to say four men, five men. How does it help to deescalate that behaviour please?
MB: In the end it does deescalate
MsR: Well of course it deescalates eventually, she’s not still screaming now, but I’m asking at the time? At the time, what was going through your brain Mr Banner when three hadn’t worked, then four or five?
MB: My brain was trying to stop Patient 1 from getting any higher, trying to be least restrictive as possible. I was trying to call on the training, I didn’t have any training, was calling on life experience with kids, you give them things to try to get them to calm down. I have no training to call on here, just trying to do my best to stop someone getting drugged up or pinned to the floor.
MsR: Are you saying that was your best there?
Ms Richardson showed Mr Banner a further clip and asked him why he was asking Patient 1 about balloons when he knew that she didn’t like balloons.
MsR: Right, why were you asking her again about whether or not she liked balloons?
MB: Balloons was one thing she actually did like, one of the few hobbies she did, she liked cats and I think she crocheted, over her time at Whorlton Hall I asked her about all of these things in an attempt to bring her down to a more happy place.
MsR: That didn’t work did it?
MB: Like I said, nothing is instant.
MsR: She was becoming more agitated, each time you mentioned balloons and more men.
MsR: You were threatening her to taunt her weren’t you?
MB: Absolutely not, I can’t taunt someone with something they like.
Ms Richardson played a further clip and asked Mr Banner about his response to a question from a colleague.
MsR: According to your evidence Mr Banner this woman, Patient 1, liked balloons, one of the few things she liked. So, why did you say “it’s just a daft question”, why didn’t you say “it’s one of the few things she likes, I’m trying to calm her down?”
MB: It’s just the way I answered the question [fuller answer, didn’t catch, apologies]
MsR: If you’re being asked a direct question, why balloons, why didn’t you just say she likes them, she likes so few things, trying to calm her down?
MB: Yes, would be better way of answering that question.
MsR: It’s because you knew she didn’t like balloons didn’t you?
MB: She did like balloons, she made dresses with balloons.
MsR: Patient 1 was someone who changed her preferences and you knew that?
MB: Patient 1 could change.
Ms Richardson played a further clip to Mr Banner and asked him what he was doing in it. He told the court that he was trying to make “a very stressful environment a little bit more normal, not normal, less stressful”. He told the court that he was totally out of Patient 1’s view, adding “again that’s possibly not professional but I’m not doing it in Patient 1’s view, I suppose I’m trying to lighten the environment for the staff”.
When Ms Richardson asked if he was trying to be funny, Mr Banner responded that he was trying to lighten the environment, asked if he liked doing that, he said that he liked the staff “not to have nightmares when they go home”.
MsR: Was that your idea of being appropriate in front of a distressed patient?
MB: My job was to look after the patient and the staff, the staff were an important part of it.
Ms Richardson showed the court another video clip. Asked how he came to be there Mr Banner responded that it looked like he was handing out folders for the notes.
MsR: So Ryan Fuller would be the male responder?
MB: As well as me
MsR: But there wasn’t any need for you to go into Patient 1’s room as well as Ryan Fuller? She wasn’t screaming at the point you went in was she?
MB: No, she wasn’t no.
MsR: You go into the room and she screamed. How did you see your presence there was deescalating the situation?
MB: I was guessing she was in a heightened state, Ryan was in there, I can’t then leave, now she’s become unsettled.
MsR: But you do leave, you go out the room while she’s still screaming. Just want to know your evidence. You told the jury you can’t leave when Patient 1 is unsettled and screaming, but you do leave, is it your evidence you can sometimes leave?
MB: I don’t see me leave.
Mr Banner asked to see the clip again. Ms Richardson asked Mr Herrmann to play the clip again, before saying to HHJ Smith that she thought it was the next clip and requesting she continue with questions about the current clip before moving to the next.
Ms Richardson asked Mr Banner why he thought saying “we should get rid of the girls” and removing the female carers from Patient 1 would de escalate her anxiety. Mr Banner responded that it was an attempt to de escalate, that there was “no sure fire way” and that many different attempts were made, in various different ways with Patient 1.
MsR: It doesn’t work though does it. We can hear her continue to scream.
MB: Not instantly no
MsR: She can hear what you’re saying perfectly well on that occasion?
MB: I believe I’m standing right in front of her.
Ms Richardson asked what Mr Banner meant when he said to Patient 1 “are you casting a spell on me”, suggesting that spells are usually to do with witches. Mr Banner agreed and said he couldn’t remember what he meant as it was so long ago. He told the court that he was “probably trying to have a bit of humour there” and that it was a stressful place to work and you didn’t know until you said something whether it would work or not. He also said that Patient 1 deserved to enjoy humour, that it didn’t need to be such a serious place all the time.
MsR: Patient 1 deserved be treated with respect.
MsR: So how is saying to a woman screaming at the top of her lungs and going [makes a noise], how is that assisted by saying are you casting a spell on me?
MB: Humour is one way of diverting…. [fuller answer, didn’t catch]
MsR: It didn’t work did it?
MB: It may not have, but you never know if it’s going to work unless you do it.
Ms Richardson played a further video clip before asking Mr Banner about it.
MsR: How did you think it would assist the situation, by singing to Patient 1 “Olivia knows she likes to muff dive?”
MB: I think what is said there was inappropriate.
MsR: So why did you say it?
MB: I don’t know. Obviously pointed towards Olivia, not Patient 1, but I shouldn’t have said it in the room, I won’t deny that.
MsR: Well you can’t deny it because you’ve said it on camera of course. Was there anything particular you think, to say that?
MB: You don’t see clips on the Panorama documentary where Olivia used to jibe me about being gay, you don’t see that. I shouldn’t have said that in the room.
MsR: It’s not a comparison is it… you’re a clever man aren’t you?
MB: That’s arguable
MsR: You don’t have complex mental health needs do you?
MB: No, but I’m not sure that makes me clever.
HHJ: Before you move on Ms Richardson… now you say that is inappropriate, but who is it you say is liking muff diving?
MB: Olivia… a few times while she is at Whorlton Hall, Olivia would say a similar thing to me but you don’t get to see that.
Ms Richardson confirmed that Patient 1 was repeating words, not screaming, at the point that Mr Banner left the room. Asked why he repeated words back to Patient 1 on that occasion he said it was because Patient 1 was calm.
Ms Richardson showed a further clip to Mr Banner, filmed on 21 February 2019 and relating to Count 6. Asked why he asked Patient 1 again if she liked balloons he responded “to see what state of mind, if she was in primary or secondary there”.
MsR: When it’s on the same shift, just few minutes afterwards, you wouldn’t keep asking her would you, because that would be wrong wouldn’t it?
MB: As you stated earlier Patient 1 changes quite a lot, wouldn’t say was wrong, it’s something Patient 1 liked, so I can’t be jibing at Patient 1 on something she likes. Patient 1 liked very few things.
MsR: But that was just a daft question you asked her according to what you said to Olivia?
Ms Richardson played another clip to the court. Mr Banner agrees that it is the same shift, and he asks exactly the same question of Patient 1.
MsR: Ryan Fuller says what have you done with balloons and you say ask her. And she says no, ask Peter. What was all that conversation about?
MB: Ask Peter about balloons? I’ve no idea, Olivia used to ask pretty daft questions.
MsR: No, this is you. Ryan says to you ‘what have you done with balloons’ and you say ‘ask her’. Why did you say to Ryan Fuller ask her?
MB: Ask her? I don’t know, go ask Patient 1 I guess.
MsR: Because you had done something with balloons, hadn’t you Mr Banner? You taunted that woman with balloons hadn’t you?
MB: No. I can’t taunt her with balloons, it’s just not possible… [fuller answer, didn’t catch]
Mr Banner disagreed with Ms Richardson’s suggestion that he had full control over Patient 1, stating that he “didn’t own the place”. Asked if he enjoyed being cruel to her, Mr Banner responded “No. At no point am I cruel, I’m talking to her about things she likes”.
HHJ Smith then asked Mr Banner for his assistance.
HHJ: Help me with this Mr Banner, your evidence has been consistently that Patient 1 liked balloons?
MB: That’s right
HHJ: So what you were doing was mentioning something she liked because that would calm her down?
MB: Yes, it’s a good indication too
HHJ: Page 30, the last page we’re looking at, here you start by asking her do you like balloons, yes?
HHJ: And Olivia Davies says why doesn’t she like balloons? OK. Olivia Davies is clearly thinking, for whatever reason, that Patient 1 doesn’t like balloons, OK?
MB: Yes, she must be.
HHJ: Your evidence is she did like balloons. So just help us, why was your answer to Olivia, not ‘well she does’? Because in fact what you say is ‘I have no idea, it’s weird’. So you’re really saying there she doesn’t like them, but I don’t understand why?
MB: I think at that point I’m laughing. Why I say it? Due to being used to Olivia asking daft questions… I was asked a silly question about Olivia hearing what she just said.
HHJ: So why didn’t you say to Olivia ‘that’s a silly question because she does like them’?
MB: I’m quite used to Olivia asking daft questions, hence I did laugh at answer because she did like balloons, she made dresses from them.
HHJ Smith asked Mr Banner for his assistance with two further points. The first relating to Count 1 which he told the court related to the sustained use of male carers.
HHJ: This is where you’re having a conversation, simultaneously about men and balloons I think, right, ok. Now my understanding is, it seems to be agreed, Patient 1 had a preference for female carers?
HHJ: Everybody did their best within the constraints of staffing to fulfil that preference?
HHJ: So the flip side is, that men were something she didn’t like, or didn’t prefer?
MB: When Patient 1 was, I would say that there were two different times that Patient 1 preferred ladies which worked differently. When Patient 1 was settled she preferred to have ladies and Whorlton Hall did their best to provide that, when Patient 1 was unsettled she also preferred ladies because those were the ones she could attack.
HHJ: Leaving aside safety, point is about her preferences. I don’t want to confuse things, her preference was for women as carers, so she did not like men, it’s the flip side isn’t it?
MB: That would be, but I prefer coffee, but I drink tea.
HHJ: Ok, let’s take that analogy. Sometimes there isn’t any choice.
MB: In that environment, generally, there wasn’t very many of them [female staff members], all of them, a large amount of them were pretty scared when patients were unsettled, men would be put there with them, that was my whole experience of Whorlton Hall.
HHJ: Alright, going back to my questions, so you can help me with it. She preferred women, she did not prefer men, you’d agreed with that?
MB: I see what you’re saying, yes.
HHJ: So here you are in conversations with her talking about something she did not prefer, men carers?
HHJ: So, mentioning something she didn’t like?
HHJ: And in the same breath talking about balloons which you say she did like?
HHJ: You understand it’s the Crown’s case that she didn’t like balloons?
MB: Yes I don’t know where it’s from, but it’s the Crown’s case she didn’t like them
HHJ: So the Crown is saying in that conversation that’s two things she didn’t like.
MB: That’s what they’re saying, unfortunately for them its unfounded because she did like balloons, and to talk about men is to try calm the situation down. As soon as Patient 1 calms down we leave the room and let the women come back in.
HHJ: As I understand your evidence where you’re talking about bringing in a 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th man, could you do that?
MB: Yes absolutely. There’d be five people in a MAYBO hold.
HHJ: Leaving aside MAYBO hold, got to have five people in a MAYBO hold, could you bring six people to sit outside her room to supervise her?
MB: Potentially, yes.
Mr Banner responded to HHJ Smith’s next question that he didn’t know how Patient 1 would have reacted to that. HHJ Smith checked with Mr Banner that his evidence was just talking about it as a possibility was a calming technique and Mr Banner told the court:
That’s the hope, my only real experience is with children. I know she’s not a child, say if you don’t calm down will take your PlayStation. You’re not doing it because you don’t like the child or trying to wind them up….
He added that it “might not be the best way, i’m a guy who’s untrained trying to do a job”.
HHJ Smith’s final questions were in relation to Count 4.
HHJ: The final part of that, you’re sitting outside the room, you remember the bit of footage?
HHJ: Right at the end, there’s this sort of DJ’ing I think its described as, spinning the deck, that’s what that sign is?
HHJ: Now, you had gone to her room for whatever reason, may not matter, may be an alarm, may be you went because you heard a noise and thought could help, but as I understand your evidence, you’d effectively moved female carers out the way because you were taking responsibility for the situation?
HHJ: You were then observing Patient 1, that was your job, because you’d taken control of the scene?
MB: Yes, I’m not in the room or anything like that.
HHJ: No, but you have got to keep her in sight, for her safety, you’ve got to keep your eyes on her?
HHJ: But when you gave evidence you said she couldn’t see you doing the DJ’ing?
MB: That’s right she couldn’t and at that point she wouldn’t have been in view of me either, is the layout of the room.
HHJ: Were you watching her?
MB: I should have been eyes on, might have been somebody behind me with eyes on.
HHJ: But you should have had eyes on. I don’t understand if you have eyes on, how she couldn’t have eyes on you?
MB: I should have had eyes on at that point, someone behind me could have, or I couldn’t have… she couldn’t have seen me at that time, so like your honour says, I couldn’t see her either.
Asked if there were any questions arising out of that, Mr Constantine sought to clarify something.
MrC: You were asked about what Olivia Davies was thinking when she said to you…
HHJ: I don’t know I did ask what Olivia Davies was thinking, I was asking what his response was.
MrC: Did you know what Olivia Davies was thinking when she asked you that question on p30?
MrC: Did she tell you what she was thinking when she asked you that question?
MrC: Thank you
HHJ: Alright, right, thank you very much.
MB: Thank you very much for your time
MrC: Ladies and gentlemen, that’s the case for Matthew Banner
HHJ: Thank you very much.
At that point court adjourned for a morning break.
The court then heard the start of evidence from Sarah Banner, for the remainder of the morning and the start of the afternoon. HHJ Smith and one of the members of counsel were involved in another case in the afternoon break, before a short ten minute break. Technical difficulties when the jury returned after the afternoon break meant that they were released early for the day at 15:35 and court was adjourned until tomorrow morning.