17 April 2023
Niall Mellor was the sixth of the nine defendants to give his evidence. Mr Patton, his counsel, took him through his examination in chief, starting after lunch. Mr Patton confirmed that one of the two charges against Mr Mellor, Count 17 had been amended. HHJ Smith told the court that instead of saying Mr Mellor did ill-treat Patient 4 by “deliberately turning off his music intending to antagonise him”, that had been amended to “deliberately turning down his music intending to antagonise him”.
MrP: Do you accept turning down his music?
NM: Yes. I probably turned down his music many times.
MrP: Did you do that to antagonise him?
NM: Absolutely not.
Mr Patton then introduced the second count which Mr Mellor is charged with, that he did ill-treat the same patient, Patient 4, “by making deliberate reference to pyjamas intending to antagonise him”. Asked by Mr Patton if he’d referred to pyjamas Mr Mellor told the court that he did, in order to get Patient 4 ready for bed.
MrP: Did you do that to antagonise him?
MrP: If we look at his careplan, was one of his things he needed clean clothes?
NM: Yes he was supposed to be asked to take his clothes to the laundry, or be supported to do so.
MrP: How often would you ask him to put his pyjamas on?
NM: Probably every afternoon shift.
In response to questions from Mr Patton, Mr Mellor told the court that he was 26 now and had been “around about 22” during the time the BBC Panorama undercover filming took place. Mr Mellor was a full time student.
MrP: Were you in fact a postgraduate student?
NM: At that time I was
MrP: Doing a Masters degree course?
MrP: Had you been a student at Sunderland University?
NM: Yes, that’s correct
When Mr Patton asked Mr Mellor what he’d studied, he told the court that his undergraduate degree was in Sports and Exercise Science, and that he’d been studying for a Masters Degree in Psychology.
MrP: How did you get on?
NM: I got a 1st class in my original degree, and was doing ok in the second one.
Mr Patton asked if being a postgraduate student enabled Mr Mellor to borrow more money from the Student Loan Company, which he confirmed it did. Asked by Mr Patton how much his university fees were, Mr Mellor responded “around about £9k a year”. Mr Mellor told the court that as an undergraduate he’d lived in a student village in Sunderland, and after that he’d lived with his grandparents in Bishop Auckland, and he still lives with them now.
When Mr Patton asked when Mr Mellor started working in the care industry “if I can call it that”, he said that he’d started when he was about 18. In response to a number of questions from Mr Patton, Mr Mellor told the court that his first job had been washing up in the kitchens at Whorlton Hall when he was at college. He told the court that his father was the chef at Whorlton Hall and had arranged for him to have an interview for that job. Mr Mellor said that he’d then transferred to Thornfield Grange for a year, and he’d worked at Whorlton Hall thereafter. He referred to his moved as “in house”, or within company, as they were both owned by Danshell at the time.
Mr Mellor told the court, in response to Mr Patton’s questions, that he was MAYBO trained, first aid trained and had training in manual handling. Mr Patton asked Mr Mellor whether MAYBO was the name of the company, not the technique and he thought it was. Mr Mellor told the court that the training covered primary, secondary and ultimately tertiary strategies.
MrP: Did someone come to the premises?
NM: I did it in the Victory Club in Darlington. Some guy talked to us in front of a white board with a projector.
MrP: Face-to-face training?
NM: Yeh it was
MrP: And demonstrations?
NM: Yeh he’s stood there, then he’d ask other people to try between themselves
MrP: Concerned with safety of everyone involved
NM: Yes that’s correct
MrP: Is the component part of that the lead up to the physical intervention?
NM: Yes, ultimately.
Mr Mellor told the court that he also did first aid training and manual handling training.
MrP: What about teaching you about people who were patients?
NM: You were left to your own devices, given any opportunity would read the careplans
MrP: These places housed people with learning disabilities and autism, did you have any training in relation to those conditions?
NM: Like others said, might be pulled off observations and learn outline of what autism is, but it wasn’t very specific.
MrP: What does that mean? Pulled off observations?
NM: You were pulled off for an hour to go there
MrP: What did training consist of?
NM: You were talked to. By Stephen Robdrup usually.
MrP: He’d teach you about autism and learning disabilities?
MrP: What about teaching you about the individuals who lived there?
NM: No. That didn’t happen
MrP: When I say lived there, I should say detained there.
Asked by Mr Patton if he’d ever met the psychiatrist Mr Mellor said he had very briefly, he’d seen him passing in the corridor. Mr Mellor didn’t believe he’d ever attended an MDT meeting and he told the court that sometimes patients would attend them. Asked whether the patient population was fairly static or a changing community, Mr Mellor responded “majority of patients stayed throughout, some left and we got new patients in”. Asked by Mr Patton on what basis patients left, Mr Mellor used the example of Patient 1 saying that she had moved to another place.
MrP: Was that before Panorama was aired?
MrP: So the airing of the programme had no effect on her going at all, nothing to do with it?
NM: I don’t think so
MrP: When Olivia claimed credit for her being moved it was nothing to do with her?
NM: Not to my knowledge.
Mr Patton asked Mr Mellor about Patient 4 and he told the court he was about 50, was diagnosed with autism and a mild learning disability.
MrP: Had he lived an independent life?
NM: In the past he had a more independent life but couldn’t say specifically
MrP: In the time you were there, how long was he there?
NM: Last year or so
MrP: He was there for a year?
NM: Something like that, I couldn’t say specifically
MrP: What was plan for Patient 4? … Was he going to get out of there? … Get to a position where he would no longer stay there?
NM: Usually a patient who left had a reduction in incidents… reduction in MAYBO, was potential might move on.
MrP: How would they address his problems? With him?
NM: I had no specific idea how they were going to do that
MrP: Did anyone share with you what the plan was?
MrP: Did anyone tell you for example if his medication changed?
NM: No. I was never advised if it changed.
MrP: Or if he received any counselling or therapy?
NM: Not to my knowledge, no
MrP: What sort of activities was he involved with?
NM: Sometimes he’d play pool in the lounge, he might play music in the lounge, might watch tele at times or spend a lot of time in his bedroom
MrP:… what were they doing to make Patient 4 more independent or to help him achieve that?
NM: Only activity was going shopping for treats
In response to further questions from Mr Patton, Mr Mellor told the court that he didn’t believe that Patient 4 could make a meal or make a cup of tea and he didn’t know whether he could make a sandwich or had access to the activity kitchen in the week, but he didn’t have access during the time Mr Mellor was working with him.
HHJ asked if Mr Mellor had mentioned the activity kitchen.
NM: Activity coordinators had kitchen and some patients would wash their own clothes but Patient 4 didn’t.
MrP: I don’t mean to denigrate it, but it’s a bit like a play room… some people might go there in order to make meals for themselves or learn how to do their washing?
NM: Some patients did
MrP: It was all about trying to achieve some measure of independence for people?
NM: Ultimately that was probably the goal, yeh
MrP: But Patient 4 never went there?
NM: No he didn’t.
Mr Patton asked what Patient 4’s day would look like and Mr Mellor told the court that he’d get out of bed and go for breakfast, then he might go to the lounge or his bedroom. He might play pool or play music. When Mr Patton asked if that was it, Mr Mellor said that he might go shopping “now and again”, although sometimes he’d have to stay on the minibus while someone else would go into the shop.
A discussion followed about how Patient 4 would write a shopping list and staff would have to “negotiate down” his requests.
MrP: When you negotiate down, presumably you have to give him a reason for doing that?
MrP: One of the biggest reasons was something he doesn’t like to talk about?
NM: That’s correct
MrP: And that’s diabetes
Mr Mellor told the court that he’d check Patient 4’s list, advise him that he couldn’t get all of it, but could get some of it.
MrP: My learned friend the prosecutor is going to suggest conversations are deliberately calculated to antagonise, but there are some subjects you do need to talk to him about?
MrP: And he doesn’t like to talk about diabetes?
NM: No he doesn’t
MrP: How do you get that across without mentioning?
NM: You couldn’t really do it without incident
Mr Patton explored this a little further, before then checking with Mr Mellor that there were two staff members working with Patient 4 at all times. Mr Mellor confirmed there was and that it could be difficult if one staff member said to Patient 4 he couldn’t have something and the other said nothing at all, describing Patient 4 as a “very complex person”.
MrP: We know from his careplan he preferred people to be firm, what did you understand that to mean?
NM: Patient 4 resisted his treatment… needed to be firm
Mr Patton asked what an incident would involve and Mr Mellor said disagreeing, swearing and Patient 4 would attack people.
MrP: There must be an upside?
NM: Of course. When he was in a good mood, we’d have a great laugh. He could play pool, but his activities were limited.
Asked what they’d have a laugh about Mr Mellor said that they’d laugh about Patient 4’s music.
MrP: Was there something sometimes known as banter?
NM: Yes, of course
MrP: Could you have a laugh with him at times?
MrP: It’s not all grim with him is it?
NM: Not always no
MrP: But he was hard work, is that fair?
NM: Yes, very hard work
Mr Patton then asked what Patient 1 was like and Mr Mellor responded “again, very hard work” and he told the court that he didn’t work with Patient 1 much, most of the time she had female staff. Then Mr Patton asked about Patient 7, who Mr Mellor described as “probably the person had the most banter with”. Mr Mellor told the court that Patient 7 would go out and about, go to the cinema, play pool and that he, Mr Mellor would be teased about what he looked like, and the way he talked.
MrP: You could be forgiven for thinking there was a large sign outside Wholrton Hall that said “no humour here”. Was that the case?
NM: There was plenty of humour
Mr Patton asked about Patient 7’s trips to the cinema a little, before moving to discuss Patient 6.
MrP: Tell us about Patient 6
NM: Again very, very complex. At times very scary to work with, had us on edge a lot
MrP: He’s the one in, in your interview you speak about being frightened of.
Asked to explain why Mr Mellor told the court that from his “first look” at Patient 6 he had a wound on his face and that “even without talking to him, was frightening enough” adding “then you’d hear the alarm going off all the time”.
Mr Patton said that there were easier ways to earn a living and Mr Mellor agreed. Asked how he knew that Patient 6’s care was costing the NHS £1million a year, Mr Mellor told the court that it “was big news, I don’t think any of the patients we ever had brought in that much money”. He said that he didn’t know about other patients but the cost of having Patient 6 at Whorlton Hall was discussed “quite a bit”.
MrP: What about senior staff, ultimate managers. Did they talk about it with you?
MrP: Did they talk about the process of how people came to the home?
NM: Not in detail but did have conversation about that… was discussed that Whorlton Hall would place bids, an offer for how much they would charge to look after a person.
MrP: Would they have a sort of specification of what the support needs were?
NM: I think so, they had to apply for it.
MrP: If a Local Authority or a Trust had a patient that needed looking after, they would ask them what their bid or their tender was?
NM: Yeh the package
MrP: Like commodities?
MrP: Is that how it worked?
NM: Was the only way it was ever described to us.
Mr Patton asked if staff ever received any training on what was appropriate behaviour with patients and Mr Mellor replied that was MAYBO training. Asked if he ever got to the point where “the conduct of other employees was too serious and you had to do something about it”, Mr Mellor said yes. Mr Mellor told the court that there was a restraint on Patient 6 where himself and Mr Fuller were looking after him, they were in a restraint with Patient 6 and staff member Y. Patient 6 was trying to bite Mr Fuller and Y “put both his feet beside his head, made a fist and punched Patient 6 in his wound in his head”.
MrP: If this is a MAYBO technique someone would be holding each arm and each leg and he’s moved into position to secure the head?
MrP: And his chosen method to do this was with a fist inside an open wound?
MrP: Was there a reaction to this?
NM: Yes Patient 6 became upset, there was blood coming from the wound. The nurse, X was also present but said nothing.
MrP: She’s the person with responsibility for everyone is she not?
MrP: She’s the person with the button to turn off the panic alarm?
MrP: What was your reaction when she said nothing about this?
NM: I panicked because the room has CCTV. Was not only the people in the incident that could see it, but the person watching the CCTV could see it.
In response to questions from Mr Patton, the court heard from Mr Mellor that he reported this incident to senior healthcare worker Mr Bennett. Asked what he expected Mr Bennett to do, Mr Mellor told the court:
X and Y were well known for having an affair together, didn’t think X was going to do anything because she watched it happen. So, I reported it to Peter Bennett and expected him to go higher.
Mr Mellor told the court that he attended an interview about it. Mr Patton then asked Mr Mellor if he’d reported the incident to the CQC and Mr Mellor said he’d done so anonymously on their website, some time in 2018. Mr Mellor told the court that X and Y were suspended and ultimately dismissed. Asked if he’d ever referred incidents to the CQC on other occasions Mr Mellor told the court that he had. He told the court the name of another former employee [I’ll withhold it] who he said he had reported to them.
NM: There was a staff member, Z, I’d heard that he was acting a little bit inappropriately, he kissed Patient 6 on the head, which I thought was weird
MrP: It’s a bit dangerous isn’t it, to kiss Patient 6 on the head?
NM: Yes it is. Was one day I worked with Patient 2, she didn’t have any clothes on at the time, he made an inappropriate comment about it, so I reported it.
MrP: Who to
NM: Steven Robdrup
MrP: What happened?
NM: I think Z was suspended
MrP: Did you report that to the CQC?
NM: Later on I did
MrP: Did they take any action?
NM: I heard they’d been in touch
HHJ: you talk about their being an anonymous section on their website?
HHJ: Was that how you reported when you did?
HHJ: Well they wouldn’t get back to you, because you’re anonymous
Mr Patton asked Mr Mellor if there was another incident where he’d contacted the CQC and he told the court that there was. In relation to Patient 3. Mr Mellor told the court that if there were more than five people involved in a restraint that would be a “MAYBO fail” and that sometimes it took as many as 8 or 9 staff to restrain Patient 3.
MrP: Is that a MAYBO failure?
MrP: What’s the consequences of that?
NM: It’s illegal, it’s not proper practice
MrP: Did you bring that to anyone’s attention?
Mr Mellor told the court if there were more than five people in the restraint that it would be written up in the same way as when there were five, but that the extra names would be added and at the end you’d write “MAYBO failed”. When Mr Patton asked what he expected the consequences would be if MAYBO failed, Mr Patton responded that he’d “expect changes to be made immediately”.
MrP: Did that happen?
NM: Not immediately
MrP: Did you complain?
NM: Steve Robdrup and Chris Shield
Mr Mellor told the court that people were getting frequently injured. He said that when he first made the complaint nothing changed and he thought perhaps Patient 3 wasn’t in the right placement. Mr Mellor told the court when no changes were made he contacted the CQC, and eventually the psychiatrist changed the patient’s medication. Asked if there was any action towards him he described being pulled into the Manager Chris Shield’s office and asked if he’d reported anything to the CQC because he’d received a phonecall from them. In response to questions from Mr Patton, Mr Mellor said that he had told Mr Shield that he was the one who’d contacted CQC.
MrP: Any consequence for you?
NM: He wasn’t very happy
MrP: How could you tell?
NM: He said I shouldn’t have done it and I should have kept things in-house.
Mr Patton then moved to discussing Olivia Davies the BBC Panorama reporter. Asked why when looking at the covert footage “we can see you are often looking at what would appear to be the camera”, Mr Mellor told the court that “Olivia who came in with the camera was a very attractive girl”.
MrP: How did you get on with her?
NM: Yeh, I got on quite well
MrP: Did you show off at all?
NM: I showed off all the time
MrP: Why were you doing that?
NM: Looking back it was, not the best way to do it, but I was trying to show off and impress her.
Mr Patton asked Mr Mellor if he had advance warning of the BBC Panorama documentary being aired. In response to questions he told the court that he knew it was due to be aired, that he had no chance to see the footage in advance but he knew when it would be aired.
MrP: Did you watch?
MrP: What did you think?
NM: I was disgusted in myself
MrP: What particularly?
NM: My use of language, the way I described things, talked about people, it was disgusting.
MrP: Did you ever hit anyone or mistreat them?
MrP: We know some of the patients kicked, spit, slapped, but that never happened the other way round, was that your evidence?
Mr Mellor told the court that there had been things which he considered abuse, which he had reported, but he didn’t ever do that. When Mr Patton asked if he considered he was ill-treating Patient 4 by asking him to put his pyjamas on, Mr Mellor said he was not, he was trying to support him to get ready for bed.
Mr Patton said he was going to show a compilation of footage concerning Mr Mellor and ask him about it. He played clip AJS/25 Clip 2, pausing to ask questions at certain pertinent points.
MrP: You say “I could do a nightshift and cure this cunt”. What was that about?
NM: It’s disgusting, I was trying to show off.
MrP: Did you ever hit him?
MrP: Hit any of the patients?
MrP: We can only see the camera facing you, if it was facing the other way would we have seen a look of disapproval from her?
MrP: Or did she ever make any comment saying don’t say things like that?
NM: No she didn’t
Mr Mellor was asked to explain what conversations were going on, and he agreed there appeared to be two conversations at once in the footage. Mr Patton played a little more of the clip before pausing to ask more questions.
MrP: Was he upset there [Patient 4] at all or was that the way he spoke?
NM: That was the way he spoke most of the time, and he could become agitated over anything.
MrP: What’s the best way to deal with him?
NM: You can’t not speak to him or you’ll not get anywhere, not make any progress at all.
MrP: You make reference to nightshift, what is happening with nightshift?
NM: Believe is towards the end of the shift, nightshift will be coming on shortly
At this point HHJ Smith interjected to check whether this was footage the jury had seen before and if not whether it was being captured on the jury capture system. At this point the jury were sent out for an afternoon break.
After the break HHJ Smith explained to the jury that this was a fuller clip than what they’d seen in relation to this incident, and that each defence team had been provided with a compilation of each relevant bit of footage for their defendants, which was where this had come from. There is no transcript but the footage will be included in the footage the jury will be provided with for their deliberations if they wish to look at it.
Mr Patton played the clip, pausing it periodically to ask questions.
MrP: Ms Richardson may ask you, could the patient, Patient 4, hear you talking about wolves there?
NM: I wouldn’t have thought so but I’m not exactly sure
MrP: She’ll probably ask you if it’s appropriate to talk about wolves in the presence of a patient?
NM: Is it appropriate to talk about wolves?
NM: Uh, yes
Asked what Ms Davies was discussing in the clip Mr Mellor told the court he didn’t know and he told the court “Olivia would engage in conversation and make comments all the time”. When Mr Patton asked if staff socialised together, Mr Mellor said that a number of them would play 5 a side football on a Friday or Saturday night and a few people would go out for a drink together. Mr Patton then moved on to ask more questions about the footage of Mr Mellor that was broadcast.
MrP: Now, footage that’s on the Panorama programme includes you swearing?
MrP: Using derogatory expressions?
MrP: Pulling faces?
MrP: What were you doing that for?
NM: It was totally unprofessional, I hold my hands up, it was disgusting and I should never have done it.
MrP: Was there anyone senior who saw you do that?
NM: I can’t remember off hand if anybody senior saw.
HHJ: What do you mean by anybody senior Mr Patton?
MrP: Let’s start with managers… had any of them seen you behave like that?
NM: No I don’t think so
MrP: Would you have behaved like that in front of them?
NM: I think its contextual, when you’re having a joke and not serious about something you’ve said or done, people wouldn’t bat too much of an eyelid against it, unless it was taken as serious.
MrP: Did you hold such antipathy towards the other people there, the patients?
NM: What do you mean?
MrP: Did you hold any dislike to the patients?
NM: Definitely not, I wasn’t there long enough to have a dislike to them. I said many things I shouldn’t have said.
MrP: Retard. It’s not acceptable really is it?
NM: No, and I’m disgusted in myself
MrP: Did anyone there say hang on a sec, don’t say anything like that?
MrP: What about Olivia?
NM: I think the majority of the time she was trying to coerce people to say more.
MrP: Is that something you said at the time or when you watched the videos?
NM: I think at the time she’d flirt with people and we’d flirt back, try to act like Jack the lad, and say stupid things, and ultimately I was really wrong in doing so.
Mr Patton asks Mr Mellor why he lowered his voice, and didn’t say things in front of a patient and Mr Mellor told the court that he wouldn’t say it in front of him because he knew he’d be upset if he heard it.
MrP: You know this prosecution is predicated on the fact you were doing this deliberately to antagonise patients?
NM: I don’t believe that
MrP: Was it in your interest to do that?
Mr Patton then asked Mr Mellor how he felt after watching the BBC Panorama programme and he responded “appalled at myself, the way I acted”.
MrP: Did you watch it on your own?
MrP: With your grandparents?
MrP: Were they impressed?
NM: No, not at all
MrP: That’s your family that is, what about the outside world? How has the outside world reacted to you?
NM: As you can imagine not well at all
MrP: Here we are in May, published on 23 May, you’re doing a Masters degree, ordinarily you would finish that soon, you’ve got a first in the bag, you’ve got this course, what happened to your course?
NM: I was told I couldn’t continue while this was all going on
MrP: What do you mean?
NM: My lecturer had a meeting, told me I should chose a different line of work and I shouldn’t be on campus while this investigation was live.
MrP: Did you need to be on campus to complete the work for your degree?
NM: No, I just needed to access online content.
MrP: Did you need to be in the university at all?
MrP: When you have access to a university’s online services, that’s obviously with the permission of the university?
MrP: Was that taken away from you?
Mr Mellor told the court, in response to Mr Patton’s questions that he’d not been able to finish his Masters degree and was still paying his fees.
MrP: What about in the locality where you lived, what was the reaction there?
NM: Everyone who I thought was my friend at the time, or who I had contact with, now no longer speaks to us. I’ve had multiple people attack us where I live.
MrP: Do you mean physically?
MrP: In the street?
MrP: Who are these people who have the right to do this?
At this point HHJ Smith interjected to ask Mr Patton how this line of questioning would assist the ladies and the gentlemen of the jury in making their decisions. Mr Patton said that it spoke to how the experience has shaped Mr Mellor.
MrP: Also how the world has reacted to him. Are you stopping me asking how its reacted?
HHJ: How is it relevant to an issue the jury have to decide? Shall we ask the jury to retire for a little while?
MrP: No. If that’s your honour’s view I’ll park it there. Have you kept your job with this organisation?
MrP: Have you been able to get a job with a similar organisation?
MrP: Have you had to retrain?
MrP: What do you do now?
NM: I drive wagons
MrP: It’s right you have no convictions at all?
Mr Patton asked Mr Mellor if he understood what he was charged with when he was arrested and questioned by the police and he said, not in the detail that he did now.
MrP: Did you believe you’d committed any criminal offence?
MrP: Have you ever swore at a patient to their face?
MrP: Spat at them?
MrP: Punched them?
MrP: In contrast have you been spat at by patients?
MrP: Have you had to receive hospital treatment?
MrP: For what?
NM: I was kicked in the face, had an ankle injury off a restraint, think that’s about it.
MrP: This whole prosecution case is based upon the fact its suggested you have been trying to get your own back or antagonise patients, is there any truth in that?
NM: No there’s not
Mr Patton’s final question to Mr Mellor acknowledged that although it may be said that Mr Mellor said unkind things about patients, and asked had he ever been unkind to them? Mr Mellor told the court “albeit what I said was wrong, and I should have not said it, my physical interactions with the patients did not reflect what I said”.
There were no questions from counsel for any of the other defendants. It was agreed that Ms Richardson would question Mr Mellor the next day. HHJ Smith reminded the jury of their instructions, thanked them and sent them home for the night.
18 April 2023
Ms Richardson opened by asking Mr Mellor if he worked less shifts at Whorlton Hall than others might have done, which he agreed. Ms Richardson asked, and Mr Mellor agreed, that in his police interview when asked to describe his shift pattern he had said that you couldn’t choose which staff you worked with, or which patients you worked with on a shift. Mr Mellor told the court that he’d watched the BBC Panorama programme by the time he was interviewed by police on 24 May 2019.
Ms Richardson took him to the agreed summary of his police interview and highlighted a question Mr Mellor was asked, whilst employed at Whorlton Hall had he ever witnessed any mistreatment or abuse of any patients, and his response which was people’s perspective might say yes but from his perspective no [fuller answer – apologies couldn’t hear it]. Mrs Richardson asked Mr Mellor what he had meant.
NM: When this went on the tele a lot of people commented online, that’s all I had to go off at the time, I was just going off what people were saying.
MsR: What were the contextual factors you were referring to in the second part of that answer?
NM: Context of if you’re employed at Whorlton Hall you may understand sometimes why, or how you see things differently to those people who didn’t work there.
MsR: Right, what sort of things would allow you to see things differently to people who didn’t work at Whorlton Hall?
NM: How stressful the place was to work. It wasn’t like a normal workplace, it’s extremely different. A lot of the people who commented online or saw the programme, wouldn’t particularly see it like that.
MsR: In your interview you said there was a lot of joking, and in particular Darren Lawton, you said was known for his joking. Was there anything you thought he said that was inappropriate?
Mr Mellor asked to see a specific example and Ms Richardson directed him to half way down p71.
MsR: You say you say daft things, I’ve had a conversation where members of staff have just joked, was actually in the programme a member of staff said he’d flattened a patient when she ran at him… bravado, lot of joking goes on. Twelve hour shifts etc… you say this member of staff was known for joking and not for one second did I think that was the case, he was known for joking. Over the page you said it was Darren Lawton. That’s what you said in interview, is your evidence to the jury what you heard Darren Lawton saying and doing was just joking and bravado and not inappropriate?
NM: No. My evidence is staff would joke, was times it wouldn’t be appropriate or professional… I don’t know how Darren Lawton thinks or anyone else thinks, I know how stressful it was there, and if you don’t laugh you’d cry, and that is the case
MsR: An example in your interview of you joking was the nipping incident, do you know what I mean by that? Do you feel that was inappropriate?
NM: I feel that was wholly inappropriate, absolutely shouldn’t have said that
MsR: Help us with why you were saying that and demonstrating that please?
NM: I wanted to be the centre of attention, it was horseplay, looking back 4 years on, I can see how wrong it was, I apologise deeply for that.
Mr Mellor agreed that this wasn’t said in the context of winding down after a shift, it was in the middle of the shift. Ms Richardson played the clip to Mr Mellor before him asking questions about it.
MsR: You heard yourself saying in that clip “from the point of view of the camera looks like you’re doing fuck all wrong”, in a quiet voice, that’s because you knew what you were saying was wrong didn’t you?
NM: What I said was wholly wrong, I shouldn’t have said it, I think Olivia leads me… she’s leading me into saying things that ultimately are wrong by me.
MsR: You’re saying Olivia led you into the whole pinching so the cameras can’t see?
NM: No I said about the pinching, that’s on me, that was my fault. But I feel she led me into saying things I shouldn’t have said, they’re still wrong, I accept that.
MsR: Why were you whispering?
NM: Because it was just something between me and Olivia Davies.
MsR: You knew it was wrong didn’t you?
NM: It was entirely inappropriate but I’ve never ever done that.
Ms Richardson asked if Mr Mellor was familiar with patient careplans, he asked for an example and he agreed that he knew that Patient 1 preferred to have females. When Ms Richardson suggested that Mr Mellor knew Patient 1 didn’t like balloons, he told the court “I knew she had balloons as part of her activities that she bought”.
Ms Richardson took Mr Mellor to a place in the transcript of the footage.
MsR: You’re talking, half way down, where Darren Lawton says when she goes its good isn’t it, you have that?
MsR: You say “I tell you what kicks her off” Mr Lawton says “apparently if you press the man button the room fills up with males, she hates it”… you say “its class. Is that when Peter had the balloons?”… “Just twanging balloons”… “Why does she hate balloons?” asked Olivia and you said “because her fucking brain is fried, she’s irrational isn’t she”
Mr Mellor responded that was on one occasion, as far as he knew Patient 1 used balloons as part of activities. Ms Richardson asked Mr Mellor what he meant when he said “she hates balloons because her fucking brain is fried, its irrational isn’t it”.
NM: I can’t say what I was thinking 4 years ago, I’d say many absurd things to act the goat… to be the centre of attention.
When Ms Richardson asked if he thought it was funny, he replied “no”, asked why he was laughing then he responded that he “wanted to be the centre of attention” and that it was the wrong way to go about it but he’d wanted to impress Olivia Davies.
Ms Richardson asked Mr Mellor what his opinion of Patient 1 was, and Mr Patton objected to the question stating that he was not charged with one count against Patient 1. The conversation continued a little before HHJ Smith asked the jury to take a short break outside while he spoke with the legal counsel. The jury returned 10 minutes later.
Ms Richardson returned to the same spot in the interview and checked Mr Mellor had it, he did.
MsR: Here you are saying “fucking hell, if it’s up to me, even when they’re good they get fuck all, cunts” and then your next answer “too fucking much… honestly fucking bitch, I can’t stand her, fat cunt”. Mr Mellor is that what you thought of patients?
NM: Absolutely not, wouldn’t be appropriate for me to say I didn’t say it, I did, but not for one second when I worked with Patient 7 did I demonstrate any of this.
MsR: Patient 4 was difficult wasn’t he?
MsR: You’ve already said that?
MsR: And he didn’t like to be reminded he had diabetes did he?
Ms Richardson played video exhibit AJS/37 Clip 3
MsR: What did you mean on page 87 there “telling him he’s on plastics is as good as telling Patient 4 he’s got diabetes, fucking brilliant”. What did you mean by telling Patient 4 it was fucking brilliant he had diabetes?
NM: It wasn’t brilliant, I was playing up for Olivia, I shouldn’t have said it
MsR: Did you mock Patient 4 about his diabetes?
NM: No I don’t believe I did
MsR: You told police it was a “daft off the cuff remark”. Is that your evidence for jury today?
NM: Yes it was entirely inappropriate
Ms Richardson checked with Mr Mellor that Patient 4 didn’t like pyjamas being mentioned and Mr Mellor responded saying that he didn’t always like it.
MsR: In that clip you say “he hates it, fucking hates it, hates being asked to put his pyjamas on as well”
NM: I knew he’d taken a dislike at the time but it wasn’t constant
MsR: Was Patient 4 easy to wind up Mr Mellor?
NM: I’d say Patient 4 was wound up himself
Ms Richardson asked Mr Mellor whether he’d mentioned pyjamas on more than one occasion if he knew Patient 4 didn’t like it and he responded that you’d often have to say things more than once “because he resisted activities”. Asked by Ms Richardson if he could say it was time to get ready for bed, or start bedtime routine instead, Mr Mellor told the court “you could use any words”.
Ms Richardson showed Mr Mellor a further video clip, directing the jury to the transcript behind divider 8 at page 92.
MsR: That’s you on 20 January saying if you were saying pyjamas to Patient 4 it would provoke him, so you knew that would provoke him on 20 January didn’t you?
NM: I’m asked here what did I do, Daniel Mason asked if I was asking him to put his pyjamas on, at that time of day when its teatime any night time activity would have been an agitation point
MsR: You had the clip played to you AJS/25 when we can hear Patient 4 shouting in the background, and you say that if you’d done a night shift you could “cure this cunt”. Can you help us with exactly why you said that, what did you mean by curing him?
NM: I’m not a doctor, I can’t cure anyone. I admitted yesterday it was entirely inappropriate. It was the wrong time, wrong place, wrong words, shouldn’t have said it.
Ms Richardson said that she would play a series of clips. HHJ checks the transcript reference and she provides it and plays the clips before asking Mr Mellor if he thought it was funny to repeatedly say words which he knew would wind Patient 4 up.
NM: Patient 4 says, when I initially say are you going to put your pyjamas on, he says I am
NM: He says “I am man” and then later on he says “I’m not doing it man” on p70
NM: It was something he did, no it wasn’t funny. I didn’t laugh in his face.
MsR: But you were laughing weren’t you?
NM: I was but not in his face. You see the nightshift coming in. The purpose of asking him get ready for bed is sincere … nightshift are coming in there, was handing my keys to him
MsR: Do you agree you were laughing?
NM: Yes I laughed
MsR: Why were you laughing?
NM: I thought I was the joker at the time, I didn’t want to seem that I was bothered by it, I was being stupid.
MsR: So you weren’t scared of him, where you were saying stick your jim jams on, put your pyjamas on?
NM: No because he wasn’t being threatening at that stage
Ms Richardson then took Mr Mellor and the jury to where he was asked the same question in a police interview.
MsR: About seven lines up from the bottom, officer says to you there “it wasn’t to wind him up?” and you say “I don’t believe so, no” … you weren’t trying to set off a trigger with Patient 4 and you say “no, no”…
Over the page 130, your answer second from bottom, right ok I asked him to put his pyjamas on, looked like staff coming in for nightshift at that point… no specific reason why I’d ask him to do that to wind him up… I was nervous when he was shouting at us, he’d already attacked us in that way… I was scared…
Ms Richardson told Mr Mellor that he was telling the police he didn’t want to look like he was scared in front of everybody, and that he was nervous when he was shouting at him. Ms Richardson then asked Mr Mellor which it was, what he’d told the jury, or what he’d told the police in interview.
Mr Mellor responded that it was the same, that Ms Richardson would be nervous if someone attacked her, and he also added that he didn’t want to appear nervous in front of Patient 4, because he would then attack him.
MsR: Are you asking because you were scared, because you wanted to be the life and soul of the party, or because you didn’t want him to know you were scared?
NM: in police interview, under stess… didn’t want to look like I was affected by it. I laughed at the reaction because I was immature and it was stupid.
MsR: Would you agree being on a section in a place like Wholrton Hall, that Patient 4 had few pleasures in life as far as you could tell?
NM: Yes from my standard, or any of our standards of life, certainly did.
Ms Richardson asked and Mr Mellor agreed, that one of Patient 4’s pleasure’s was music. Mr Mellor agreed when Ms Richardson suggested that “he loved his singers, posters on his wall and his CD player was very important to him”.
Ms Richardson then turned to Count 17 and said that she wouldn’t play the video footage again because Mr Patton had already played it to Mr Mellor yesterday. Ms Richardson directed the jury and Mr Mellor to the relevant transcript.
MsR: You see that first answer “know what mate honestly it’s so funny, so funny, on Saturday last week moved back into bedroom 11… putting his Ariana Grande posters up, I said is that Taylor Swift, oh no Miley Cyrus, and he went off”. Why did you think that was funny?
NM: You could have banter with Patient 4 when he was in a good mood, majority of the time he’d engage with you and would talk about that
MsR: But he wasn’t in a good mood. You’ve just said in that clip “he went off it”
Mr Mellor told the court that it was just something he’d said, that he hadn’t done that, and if he had the other person he was working with would have reported him, or Patient 4 would have made a complaint because he was known to make allegations.
Asked if he thought it was amusing to tease Patient 4 in this way about his music, Mr Mellor replied “no, because you could have banter with him”.
MsR: Why were you saying that?
NM: 4 years ago I wanted to be centre of attention, looking back now it’s very immature
MsR: Did you actually say those words to Patient 4, “Is that Taylor Swift oh no its Miley Cyrus”?
Mr Mellor said he had many conversations with Patient 4 about his music, adding “I was probably saying it to Olivia to make an impression”.
MsR: Is your evidence to the jury you didn’t say that to Patient 4 and just made it up to look… it was bravado in front of Olivia Davies? It’s a very specific thing to make up isn’t it?
NM: Yes. I was very immature and I should not have done It, I accept that.
MsR: You were laughing at the way he’s replying. Was it all a huge joke to you Mr Mellor?
NM: No. I don’t think anyone on a section is a huge joke, I was just immature at the time, I was stupid.
MsR: You were being deliberately cruel to that man aren’t you?
NM: No because my actions when I looked after him was entirely opposite to what I say here.
Ms Richardson moved onto Count 18 and asked Mr Mellor why he turned Patient 4’s music down repeatedly.
NM: I turned Patient 4’s music down many times, he listened to music and it was too loud. His room was situated between Patient 6 and the stairs and Patient 6 didn’t like loud music, would make him very agitated… to keep his music down would be appropriate, not just for that because we heard yesterday Patient 4 needed a low stimulus environment, it wasn’t a night club.
MsR: You said yesterday Patient 4 needed firm instruction?
MsR: He needed to know what you meant?
MsR: You couldn’t talk in riddles to him could you?
MsR: So why is it, instead of saying Patient 4 your music is bothering other service users, patients, call them what you like, you’re saying to Olivia Davies you leant around the corner, turned the volume all the way down, he came turned it back up, you leant around the corner again turned it down and he went mental? Olivia says “did he know it was you” and you reply “not immediately… he saw us doing it and chased us out the room… eyy I was creased”. That’s being deliberately cruel to this man.
NM: I sensationalised simple events, like asking him to turn it down or me telling him I would, to be centre of attention like I said
MsR: So all this turning it up, down, up, down without him seeing who it was, that was a load of rubbish to look good in front of Olivia, is that your evidence?
NM: Yes, that is all rubbish… Patient 4 was known to make allegations, something as important as his music he’d make allegations… this didn’t happen, it was a stupid statement that I made.
Ms Richardson then asked Mr Mellor to “help us, with your general attitude towards these people in your care please”. Ms Richardson offered to show another clip and took Mr Mellor and the jury to the transcript.
MsR: Right at the bottom, you and Darren Lawton are having a chat and Mr Lawton says “fucking picked him up, feet didn’t touch the floor, bunged him in the lift in the middle of the night, then just left”. You say “did you write it up?” and he said “no just left him”… you say “we need more of that”. What did you mean by ”listen we need more of that, honestly we do, just not enough of that”?
NM: I made a compilation of stupid immature comments. I was much younger, and daft, shouldn’t have said it.
MsR: What was the meaning of that comment?
NM: Was no meaning behind it, despite these things I said, it’s never been reflected with the interactions I had with the patients.
Asked why he stopped talking and went quite when another member of staff, Budgie, came in, Mr Mellor told the court that he didn’t know him that well at that point, and he likened it to stopping talking if a stranger could overhear in the street.
Ms Richardson played a further clip and asked Mr Mellor who he was talking about. He said that it was an incident that happened with Patient 8.
MsR: With Patient 8, why was it you were talking about “getting him by the throat” and “Superman diving the cunt” and that “it was brilliant”?
NM: I acted in front of Olivia like a court jester… was multiple incidents with Patient 8 on this day, he ran up the stairs, all the staff on that incident, the 5 people and the nurse followed him upstairs. If I’d done any of this stuff and Patient 8 was known to make allegations, if I’d done any of this, there would be allegations left, right and centre.
MsR: Was it bravado?
MsR: In what way?
NM: I was a stupid young man
MsR: I’m using your word to the police, you didn’t do it, was bravado
NM: Was stupid thing to say, didn’t do it at all
MsR: But you’re not stupid are you Mr Mellor, you’re a university graduate, with a first class degree, but for this you would have finished your masters?
MsR: You knew it was cruel, demeaning and deliberate.
NM: These were just comments, any time I’ve worked with patients I was spot on, you could ask any other member of staff, not just those here today who’d testify to that.
MsR: Thank you
Mr Patton had no further examination and closed the case for Niall Mellor at 11am.
Next the court heard from Darren Lawton, but I’ll report his evidence tomorrow when his case is complete.