Whorlton Hall Prosecution – 18 and 19 April 2023 – Darren Lawton

18 April 2023

The seventh defendant to give their evidence to the court was Darren Lawton. His counsel, Ms Brown, started by handing out an additional small bundle and a discussion followed about where it should be placed in the files.

Ms Brown said to Mr Lawton that she’d ask him questions grouped around topics. She told Mr Lawton “this is your opportunity to give your explanation for the jury so they need to hear your answers” and instructed him to direct his voice towards the furthest person he could see. She started by asking about Mr Lawton personally.

The court heard that he’s 47 now, and was 43 at the time of the offences.

MsB: You have one conviction recorded against you from 1998, appeared in magistrates court for minor road traffic offence, driving without insurance and failure to stop. Since that time any further convictions or any further offences?

DL: No

MsB: Any police cautions, warnings or reprimands?

DL: No

The court heard that Mr Lawton has a partner and two children.

MsB: Before working at Whorlton Hall had you worked in care before?

DL: No

MsB: Any experience of working with people with additional needs?

DL: No

MsB: What is your employment background?

DL: Spent many years in the military, when I left the military I worked for Virgin Media for a long time.

MsB: Pause there. When you say military, Army? Navy?

DL: Army

MsB: For how many years?

DL: 17

MsB: Where did you serve when you were in the army?

DL: Served in multitude of different environments, Afghanistan, Iraq, Sierra Leone [he listed more – didn’t catch]

Mr Lawton told the court that he “hopped around from job to job” after leaving the army, and when asked by Ms Brown he said that he couldn’t remember what job he was doing before starting at Whorlton Hall, but he thought he might have been working as a Damage Controller for a company called Northgate.

In response to Ms Brown’s questions, Mr Lawton told the court that he saw a Support Worker job at Whorlton Hall advertised online.

MsB: What made you apply for that job?

DL: I’d suffered for quite a long time, even during military, and after with PTSD. I’d been through a lot of treatments, a lot of counselling, so on and so forth, I decided at that point in time I wanted to do something different, that may benefit me as well as other people.

MsB: The PTSD, presumably an obvious question. I assume it came from your time in the army?

DL: It did yes

MsB: What were you hoping to get out of a job in care?

DL: Um, hopefully a career. I wasn’t getting any younger. I wasn’t as fit as I used to be, and I think I decided I wanted to give back for a change, instead of just take.

Mr Lawton told the court that he had an interview for the role, in response to questions from Ms Brown he explained there was just one interview, he didn’t have to do a presentation or anything like that “just sit down and a conversation”. Asked if there was anything else to the application process he replied “no”.

Ms Brown said that she would then move on to her next topic, starting at Whorlton Hall and his training. She asked questions of Mr Lawton and he told the court that he started work at Whorlton Hall on 9 April 2018, he was contracted to work 40 hours a week, and was paid £8.14 per hour. He said he regularly worked more than 40 hours a week, “some weeks it may well be 40, others would be 50 plus”.

Asked what training he’d received before starting work at Whorlton Hall, Mr Lawton told the court that he attended a training course in a training facility above Morrissons in Darlington, the contents of which he described as:

I did a 7 day course, included, like, manual handling, health and safety, um, codes of practice, um and 3 day MAYBO

Ms Brown said that they’d return to that in a while but she wanted to understand a little more about the general training provided. She asked if any extra training was provided after Mr Lawton started working with patients.

DL: Yes, but very little

MsB: What form would that take?

DL: I had a 20min training on learning disabilities, um, to be honest I can’t really remember because there wasn’t really that much

MsB: We’ve heard a lot in this case about careplans. Did you have the chance to become familiar with careplans before you started working with patients?

DL: When I started I had a day, day and half maximum, I know that I didn’t get through anywhere near half of the care plans.

Ms Brown then took the court to a document “entitled information to cover in the first week in the workplace”. She told the court that this had a list of key information, it was dated and signed and it was one particular aspect of that she wished to ask Mr Lawton about, the third one down “introduction to welcome buddy who you will shadow for the first 5 days in the workplace”.

MsB: Welcome buddy. What was that?

DL: I don’t think I had a welcome buddy

MsB: Did you shadow someone for your first 5 days in the workplace?

DL: No. I think I had 2 days maximum

MsB: Who did you shadow?

DL: I don’t know, can’t remember who I actually shadowed with, but my whole, massive majority of my shadowing I spent with Patient 6

Ms Brown moved on to the next document in the bundle, and asked the jury members to look at it. The document was Mr Lawton’s MAYBO Certificate dated 17 April 2018 and it said that he had “successfully completed training programme covering” and Ms Brown then listed the curriculum mentioned on the certificate [too fast for me – couldn’t catch, apologies]. In response to Ms Brown’s questions, Mr Lawton told the court that this was a 3 day course, as part of the 7 day training he received prior to starting work in Whorlton Hall.

Ms Brown moved to the next two documents in the bundle “two care certificates dated 2 April 2018 and 18 April 2018”. She said that this was care certificate based on standards set by Health Education England and asked Mr Lawton if he knew what this was.

DL: Basically a certificate from one of the online courses you do. It just, you do an online course and you’re asked to answer questions at the end and at the end of it you get a care certificate.

MsB: You do this as part of the 7 days, or is it done at different times?

DL: No, it’s done separately

MsB: And two potential dates you were awarded yours, either 2nd or 18th of April 2018?

DL: Yeh, I don’t understand why I’ve got two

MsB: Did you do that in exam conditions?

DL: No. I did it at home

MsB: Can you do it a number of times, or do you have to pass first time?

DL: No, I do believe if you do fail it you can do it over and over and over again until you get it right.

Ms Brown turned to the next page in the bundle which she described as a grid with subjects in, and dates next to it. She told the court that it had a number of things that Mr Lawton had been trained in, MAYBO, safeguarding, data protection, health and safety, moving and handling.

MsB: Middle column says PBS is that positive behaviour support?

DL: It is yes

MsB: What form did that training take? Can you remember?

DL: Just a slide show and information given to us from that

MsB: PBS, does that include what we’ve heard about the three stages, primary, secondary, and tertiary?

DL: It does yes

MsB: How long did that slideshow last?

DL: Top of my head, couldn’t tell you

MsB: Were you tested on it afterwards?

DL: Um no

Ms Brown then asked Mr Lawton when his probation was completed, which was October 2018, and he agreed that the period the filming took place he’d been in post between 8 and 11 months. Mr Lawton told the court that he felt “quite competent” in what he could do in his job when Ms Davies was filming, adding “obviously at that point, I hadn’t actually been with the vast majority of the service users, I was predominantly placed with Patient 6, probably 80% of my time there”. Ms Brown then asked Mr Lawton about his application for an NVQ qualification.

MsB: We see you were applying for a qualification, Level 2 Health and Social [Care] course is that right?

DL: That’s correct yes

MsB: Who’s idea was it that you’d apply for that course?

DL: Was introduced to us by Steve Robdrup. He basically asked if anyone wanted to do it, obviously enhances your career.

MsB: Did you want to do it?

DL: Of course, yes

MsB: Why did you want to do it?

DL: Like I say I chose a career path in care. To get anywhere moving forward would have had to do it anyway.

MsB: Where did you see your employment future?

DL: Um, I couldn’t really say. I was working in care, I enjoyed the job, it was tough, maybes once I’d got little bit more qualified I’d have probably moved onto something else, because of my age I was getting a bit too old for Whorlton.

MsB: Did you complete the qualification?

DL: I didn’t, no.

MsB: Why was that?

DL: We were contacted by the outside people who were doing our NVQs at the time, and were basically told we weren’t allowed to finish it.

MsB: As a result of this?

DL: Yes

Ms Brown said that she’d then move onto her next topic, the specifics of training and guidance from senior staff. Asked what his understanding was of secondary techniques was Mr Lawton told the court:

We were realistically told that to basically think outside the box, where secondary strategies come into place, at times. Some secondary strategies didn’t work, some did but they changed daily, so it’s all about thinking outside the box and trying to manage and work, what works and what doesn’t and trying to figure it out.

Asked who’d told the staff to “think outside the box”, Mr Lawton said that Steve Robdrup had in a training meeting. Ms Brown then read an extract from a Danshell Healthcare policy about positive behaviour support to the court.

MsB: It says there strategies should be personalised, but typically may include the use of humour, distraction, redirection to pleasurable activity, diversion, and shared approach to [didn’t hear] underpinned by empathy. Does that accord with your understanding of what a secondary strategy is?

DL: Yes

MsB: Is this what you were taught at Whorlton Hall?

DL: Yes

Ms Brown then played a clip to the court and directed the jury to the transcript. The clip was footage from a training meeting where Stephen Robdrup was addressing staff. Mr Lawton confirmed that he was present and when asked if it was the first meeting of that type he’d attended he said it wasn’t and that there had been quite a few.

MsB: Stephen Robdrup appears to be saying ‘try techniques that are not necessarily MAYBO in order to keep everyone sort of safe, but then write MAYBO applied’. Was that your understanding of what you were being taught?

DL: Yes

MsB: This message there, ‘our thing is to keep everyone safe, do what you need to do’. Did that apply just to restraints?

DL: No that applied to secondary strategies as well.

Ms Brown then said she’d move onto her next topic which was Mr Lawton’s role at Whorlton Hall and the general environment at Whorlton Hall. She asked a number of questions and Mr Lawton told the court that he was working with Patient 6 about 80% of the time, and the remaining time he’d be working on response. Asked what that involved Mr Lawton said “responding to attack alarms, nurse calls if one of the other staff members needed a break, toilet break or to get water or something, you’d cover for that person when they’re away”. Mr Lawton said he didn’t know why he’d been chosen to work on response. Asked what he might find when responding to an alarm, Mr Lawton told the court “Could be multiple things, one of patients might be out control, aggressive, haven’t got to tertiary strategies yet. Or could be straight to restraint”.

At that point court was adjourned for a morning break.

Ms Brown asked Mr Lawton what he’d be doing when he was on response, when an alarm was not responding and he told the court he’d be “covering people’s breaks, generally wandering around, helping out the nurses, having conversations with other service users and whatnot”. Ms Brown then moved on to discussing shift patterns and breaks.

MsB: How long were your shifts?

DL: They were normally 12 hour shifts, but I have done quite a few 24hours

MsB: During that 24 hour shift how many breaks would you get?

DL: Breaks come and go, you’re only allowed a break if you really asked for one, needed one. On a 24 hour shift you used to be able to get, on top floor there was what was classified as a break room, but it was never used as a break room because we didn’t have specified times to use it, in there was a bed, used to be able to get couple hours sleep, but that had to be past midnight, might get midnight to 2am then back up again.

MsB: How often would you work 24 hour shifts?

DL: Realistically only if ever asked, if staff levels were low or too many agency to permanent staff ratio.

HHJ: You told us reasons you might work one, but the question was how often?

DL: Hard to say, probably in my time there, 6 or 7, so not often but was possibilities, at least one a month maybes.

Ms Brown then asked how often staff would receive a break if they were working 12 hour shifts and Mr Lawton told the court:

DL: It all depended, on you know, if you were with say Patient 6, you could have one for 10 minutes every couple of hours, but if you were with other service users you had to, um, request one, through the alarm. But obviously if there were incidents ongoing you had to sit and wait.

Ms Brown then asked Mr Lawton about whether he’d ever been attacked at work, he had. She took the court to a document that recorded when Mr Lawton was recorded as being injured at work. She said this was “very small, contains five incident dates” and she proceeded to go through these with Mr Lawton.

MsB: Is that document an accurate reflection of how many times you were physically attacked?

DL: No

MsB: What should it say?

DL: Um, realistically should be four times the size of that

MsB: Why weren’t all the times you were physically attacked recorded?

DL: If there wasn’t a debrief done, if there was no debrief then it wasn’t recorded.

MsB: Would you always ask for a debrief?

DL: You wouldn’t ask for them. The nurse, or the nurse would ask a senior member of staff to come, and do your debrief. There was a tick form on it that asked you, if you had any injuries, how you felt, how you were feeling at time, so on and so forth.

Asked if he’d ever suffered any notable injuries Mr Lawton mentioned he damaged his shoulder in a restraint. He told the court that he was restraining a service user’s legs when he got lifted and dropped to the floor. He confirmed that he never had any time off work on sick leave. Asked how often he’d be involved in a physical restraint, Mr Lawton told the court if you were working response “it could be anywhere from 2, 3, 4 to I think the maximum I ever did in one day was 14”.

MsB: How did you feel about having to be involved in restraining people?

DL: It’s not a nice feeling, it’s not only uncomfortable for staff, it’s also uncomfortable for the service user. Like I say, no one wants to be laid on the floor for hours on end, all day long.

MsB: How long would restraints last for?

DL: Would vary from a few minutes to 15 or 20 minutes

When Ms Brown asked Mr Lawton to his knowledge what percentage of workers at Whorlton Hall were agency staff, he responded that it depended on the day.

DL: Um, it could be a ratio of 50/50, 50% agency, 50% permanent staff, but I had seen levels go up to 70% agency staff, 30% permanent staff.

MsB: Did it ever go less than 50% agency staff that you saw?

DL: Not that I can remember no

MsB: What was your experience of working with agency workers?

DL: Some of them were pretty good, we used to have our regulars that came but all depends on whether or not them particular people were available for that day… there was a minority of good agency workers, but the majority were, how can I say, lazy.

MsB: How did that laziness show itself?

DL: It would put a lot more emphasis on the permanent staff to do more, than realistically what needed to be done. If you worked with good agency staff, you would concentrate on the service user and the agency staff would fill out the notes, do the running around, and especially with Patient 6, because as I already explained was two staff in his room with him, one in breakout room, one floating around doing bits and bobs, we’d rotate that every hour. Um, if it was say like myself and three agency staff, it could be quite hard going because once I left the room, let’s say Patient 6 didn’t like the agency staff he had at time, it would cause issues, then I’d have to go back in his room which put extra strain on staff.

MsB: Any examples you can recall of working with agency staff that caused you concern?

DL: Yes I was working with Patient 6, he became quite aggressive because he didn’t like one of the agency workers with him at the time. What Patient 6 used to do was punch the windows quite a lot, and it got to a stage where we thought that we’d have to restrain him. I moved forward, Patient 6 moved forward towards me and the three agency staff ran out the room and left me on my own.

MsB: What then happened?

DL: I had to deal with him myself.

In response to questions from Ms Brown, the court heard from Mr Lawton that there were two separate teams of staff working at Whorlton Hall and himself and all his codefendants were all on the same team. Mr Lawton told the court that Olivia Davies was also on their shift team and he said he couldn’t remember if she ever worked on the opposite shift, he never had. Ms Brown’s final question in this section about the general environment, was to ask Mr Lawton how he felt at the end of a shift. He told the court:

DL: Worn out, physically worn out, you know you’d finish your shift, go home and it would take you, finish shift at 8pm, get home half 8 quarter to 9, mind still racing, midnight, 1o’clock, so you’d probably only get 5 to 6 hours sleep and then you were back in again.

Ms Brown then moved onto her next topic, which was Count 23 that she referred to as the 1-2-3-MAYBO incident. Ms Brown directed the jury to the transcript reference and told Mr Lawton she’d play the clip to him and the court and then ask him questions about it.

She paused the clip and asked Mr Lawton a few questions. He told the court that this was filmed in Patient 5’s lounge, he wasn’t present at the start of the clip and he’d worked with Patient 5 on a number of occasions.

MsB: How did you get on with him?

DL: I got on with Patient 5 quite well. Even though I didn’t work with him a lot, when he was transitioning to his new place where he was moving to, he picked me to go with him for his transition visits.

Ms Brown played some more of the clip before pausing and asking questions. Mr Lawton told the court that he wasn’t working specifically with Patient 5 that day and that he might have been on response. Asked why he said to Patient 5 “what happens when you hit staff?” he said that he was just having a conversation with Patient 5. Asked what the intention was behind that he said he had no intention behind it “you could have a conversation with Patient 5, he was a normal lad”. Mr Lawton told the court that Patient 5 was an avid football fan “didn’t matter what team it was, if football was on he’d watch it”.

Ms Brown played some more of the clip before pausing and asking questions.

MsB: Pausing there, have you just come back into the room there?

DL: I had just come back in, yes

MsB: When you first walked into the room, what did you think was going on?

DL: From what I remember, um, I believed that Patient 5 was demonstrating a MAYBO technique to Olivia, and that was it really

MsB: Had you seen this before?

DL: I hadn’t seen that before no

Ms Brown played some more of the clip before pausing and asking questions. Mr Lawton told the court that he was asking Patient 5 if he was going to stay there until the night staff came on shift. Ms Brown played it again and then asked more questions.

MsB: Mr Fuller says “it totally looks like we’re a bunch of bastards”, he laughs and you tell Patient 5 to get up now

DL: Yes

MsB: Why did you tell him to get up?

DL: Because he was on the floor

MsB: Were you concerned about anything you’d seen up to this point?

DL: No

MsB: Why did you tell him to get up?

DL: Because he was on the floor

MsB: Mr Fuller seems to climb up, we see you do that movement with your knee, you say “booof” a noise like that and then you’re laughing?

DL: Yes

MsB: What did you do there?

DL: I was simulating a wrestling move

MsB: Why?

DL: To be honest, it was just, like I say, was just a bit of banter going on. Ryan jumped up to the sofa to do a wrestling move, just popped into my head, same thing I do at home with the kids, just popped into my head and I just did it.

HHJ: You say what you do at home with the kids?

DL: Yes, the kids are forever doing stupid wrestling moves. Seen Ryan get up to pretend to do wrestling move, was first thing that popped into my head.

Ms Brown said that she’d come back to the conversation that followed, about another restraint, in due course. She asked Mr Lawton if he’d had any concerns about the incident, or whether he’d thought anything more about it until he was shown the footage, and he responded no to both.

MsB: Was this ill-treatment of Patient 5?

DL: Definitely not, no

MsB: Did you think you were ill-treating Patient 5?

DL: No

MsB: Did you not care about whether you were ill-treating him or not?

DL: It didn’t cross my mind, movement I did was reaction to something I saw

MsB: Did Patient 5 show any sign, to your knowledge, of being uncomfortable or unhappy?

DL: No. It shows on the video there he got up, if he wasn’t happy about something he’d have said something

MsB: Does that accord with your knowledge about Patient 5?

DL: Yes

Ms Brown then moved on to the second charge against Mr Lawton, Count 26, which related to Patient 6. She asked a number of questions and Mr Lawton told the court that he worked with Patient 6 “quite a lot” and he pointed out where he lived on the floor plan. Mr Lawton answered questions about the accuracy of the floor plan and about the layout of Patient 6’s flat. He pointed out the location of what was called the “breakout room” in Patient 6’s flat where the CCTV monitors were kept and he told the court that there was a door missing on the plan.

MsB: Would you agree with the description of Patient 6 being the most violent of the patients at Whorlton Hall?

DL: He could be, he could be very violent, he was also a very good manipulator, and he was very, if he had an issue with a member of staff he was very, very patient. He could be weeks or even months, um, that he would, if he wanted to get to a member of staff he would wait a long time until the perfect opportunity for him to arise. Whether that member of staff had forgotten about whatever had happened and was stood next to him, was perfect opportunity to lash out to member of staff

MsB: Were you ever that person?

DL: Um no

Mr Lawton told the court that from when he started at Whorlton Hall in April 2018 he worked with Patient 6 immediately, that he was placed with him every day, either morning or afternoon, and if he was working a nightshift he’d normally end up with Patient 6.

Ms Brown then moved to Patient 6’s segregation care plan and asked Mr Lawton if he recognised it, he did. He told the court that wasn’t the entirety of Patient 6’s careplan, which he thought was two folders thick.

MsB: Would you have those with you, while you were working with Patient 6?

DL: No, at the end of each 6 hour shift… member of staff would come round with the actual careplans, so staff could write in the observations for that, but you got them for 20 minutes, to give you enough time to write the observations. Then they had to go back because they had to be back before 2pm for obviously for handover, the shift change into the next person

MsB: Did you ever get time to go through his careplan?

DL: No, I did go through it when I first started, was first careplan given to me, after that no didn’t really have time to read them.

Ms Brown then moved on to look at another document, Patient 6’s psychological formulation. Ms Brown talked through the sections, including pre-disposing factors, Patient 6’s history, precipitating factors such as triggers, and perpetuating factors. She described how these sections met in the middle with presentation factors. Mr Lawton agreed that’s what the document contained. Some of the precipitating factors listed were structure, staff changeover times, unhealthy focus on particular members of staff, unclear communication, change in seasons and high levels of arousal. Presentation included self-harm, property destruction and smearing.

MsB: Does this accord with your experience of Patient 6?

DL: Yes

MsB: Did you use this to help you mange Patient 6?

DL: Yes, it worked to a degree, um but like I say with Patient 6 sometimes it was unclear what agitated him, or what was the issue. It could be really something so simple, like I say Patient 6 was a very good manipulator. You had to watch him and watch what he was saying to you constantly.

Taking the trigger factor of staff changeover times, Ms Brown asked Mr Lawton what they would do to try and manage that and he told the court that no clocks or watches were allowed in Patient 6’s flat because otherwise Patient 6 would ask staff the time and because he knew when changeover was, he’d focus on that and staff changes, which could be a trigger.

Mr Lawton told the court if Patient 6 asked him what the time was he’d respond that he hadn’t got the time. Mr Lawton also told the court that staff changeovers happened at the last minute and were quick.

MsB: Then underneath at the bottom of the page, protective factors. These appear positive things can be impacted positively, very likeable and pleasant aspect to personality, good sense of humour… enjoys company of peers at social events… can recognise unhealthy behaviour, expresses despair and can focus on activity if he’s enjoying it. Does that accord with your knowledge of Patient 6?

DL: It does yes

MsB: Healthy relationships with staff, how would you describe your relationship?

DL: I had a very good relationship with Patient 6. Probably spent more time with Patient 6 than with my own family, over time I worked on that relationship. Yeh, we got on quite well, he felt comfortable around me and to a degree I felt comfortable around him

Ms Brown then moved to another document, risk screening and assessment tool dated 5 January 2019. Ms Brown described that document as being blocked into different behaviour, firstly threatening behaviour, specific risks, further information, history and triggers, known protective factors and known de-escalation strategies. Ms Brown asked Mr Lawton if the example he’d given about how they managed time was an example of a redirection and Mr Lawton responded:

DL: Yes. One of Patient 6’s other big things was what’s happening next. He was forever asking what’s happening next, we’d have to sit and say “we’re not concentrating on next, we’re concentrating on now”, so redirected his thinking away from what was next, because he was constantly thinking about what was next

The final document Ms Brown wanted to look at was Patient 6’s health passport which she told the court had already been looked at with Ms Davies. Mr Lawton confirmed that he’d seen this document before the case.

Ms Brown read an extract from it of things that make Patient 6 happy which included sitting with staff, having a chat, hand massages, movies, board games, having tea and snacks.

Things doesn’t like included change of staff or routines, staff talking to each other. Ms Brown read that it also included that Patient 6 didn’t like being left out of conversations, and new staff, that he would sometimes call strangers.

MsB: What would you chat about?

DL: Anything and everything as long as it kept him occupied and he was happy talking with staff, could be anything.

MsB: How many shifts in a row would you do with Patient 6?

DL: As in what, same day or consecutive days?

MsB: Good question, consecutive days

DL: I’d maybe work with Patient 6 every day

MsB: Did you ever do consecutive nights?

DL: Yes

MsB: Did you ever speak to anybody about that?

DL: Very much so

MsB: Who was that?

DL: Multiple nurses in reference to that, marked my dissatisfaction, especially if doing three night shifts on a row with Patient 6, was very straining. Sometimes would be be taken out so only did two and nightshift on response or with someone else, but yeh, had spoken about it quite a lot.

Ms Brown said that in one of Olivia Davies’ video diaries which had been produced on behalf of Karen McGhee, Ms Davies spoke about someone called Darren going to management about Patient 6 having female staff members. She said that this person called Darren suggested more female support workers with Patient 6 and management dismissed it. Mr Lawton confirmed that it was him she was talking about.

McB: Tell us about that please

DL: Patient 6 would focus on female staff, I don’t know if it was an arousal thing for him or what, but we’d very rarely used to put female staff in. He did used to have female staff, only one at time, was few and far between. My suggestion was we should do it, even if for a couple hours during the day, just so he didn’t get over stimulated when he actually had a female member of staff on his observations.

MsB: Who did you speak to about that?

DL: Steve Robdrup

MsB: What was the response?

DL: I was basically shot down

MsB: In what way? What were you told?

DL: I can’t remember the full conversation to be honest, was that long ago, but he just put case factor of how violent was Patient 6, and the way he focused on female staff so it would never happen.

Ms Brown also mentioned the clip of the handover meeting produced on behalf of Karen McGhee. Asked questions about that by Ms Brown, Mr Lawton told the court:

He [Patient 6] had in his head he was moving to Manchester and when he got there he was going to have a party. From what I remember the piece of paper, believe was member of night staff was with him had sat and wrote a note to say he was going to ask a day time member of staff if he could go to Manchester and have a party, which you cannot do with Patient 6.

Mr Lawton said that he couldn’t remember how Patient 6 was that day “but dare say he’d have been agitated because he’d not going to Manchester and he’d not having a party”. Ms Brown then asked Mr Lawton about changes in Patient 6 during his time at Whorlton Hall.

MsB: How had Patient 6 changed during his time at Whorlton Hall to your knowledge?

DL: Patient 6 had already been there for a while when I started, but from what I understand when he first came, he was in restraints, all day every day. He was, he had quite a lot of weight on him, he was attacking staff every day, um, he was ripping his clothes off, throwing faeces, smearing every day to the point where when I was actually working with him, his incident levels dropped massively, his assault of staff dropped massively, he’d lost a lot of weight because we had him on a diet plan and I think his general attitude had changed as well.

MsB: What contribution do you think you had to that?

DL: Umm, I wouldn’t like to say that, how much of a contribution I had into that, would hope I’d had quite a lot, me and Patient 6 got on quite well and in the whole time I worked with Patient 6 I’ve never once had to restrain him.

MsB: Why is that?

DL: Because I dealt with it a separate way

MsB: A separate way being what?

DL: Sat him down, spoke to him, treat him as a person rather than just a patient. I could do a 6 hour shift with Patient 6 and could be sat in his room for 6 hours and he could have me laughing for 6 hours

MsB: When you worked with him, how did you feel about him?

DL: I think at first when I first started, I had heard all these rumours, even on my training about Patient 6 and how bad he was, this that and the other. At first I was very standoffish, I didn’t really know him and couldn’t really comment on knowing him then. But yes, he had his moments, yes he could be violent, yes he used to trash his room, rip his clothes off, throw faeces, but it didn’t change the fact that the way I dealt with him was same way I’d deal with him whether he was calm or agitated.

Ms Brown then moved to Count 26 and played the video footage, pausing from time to time to ask questions. She told the court that this was filmed on 2 February 2019 and the clip starts in the garden room. Mr Lawton in response to her questions said it was normal for Patient 6 to be in the garden room, or the garden, providing he had staff with him and was not agitated. He said that he [Patient 6] would often go to the garden room for what was classified as his break times, have a cup of tea and crisps and play some games.

When Ms Brown asked what they’d do if he showed signs of being agitated in the garden room or garden, Mr Lawton told the court that they’d “assess it and if we could safely, we’d get him back to his own flat so we could manage that situation”.

MsB: We can see you’re sat on the same sofa as Patient 6. You’re sat close together, is that normal?

DL: Other staff members wouldn’t sit near him, I didn’t have a problem with it.

MsB: How often would he sit next to you like that?

DL: All the time

Ms Brown said that we can see Mr Fuller has appeared in the doorway and she asks Mr Lawton to explain what is going on there.

DL: It’s me and Ryan started off having a conversation and then Patient 6 joined in the conversation. In the moment was just an all round discussion. Patient 6 used to call Ryan quite a lot of names, but, at that point even though it looked as though Ryan and Patient 6 I suppose were having an argument, in respect they probably were, but not a full blown aggressive type argument. Patient 6 would call it tit for tat.

MsB: That’s phrase he’d use?

DL: Yes, at that point there’s no showing of him being agitated or aggressive

MsB: What are you doing during this period

DL: Talking to Ryan, as well as Patient 6

MsB: We see you looking at Patient 6 there, are you engaging him in the conversation as well?

DL: I am yes

Ms Brown played some more of the clip before pausing and asking questions. Mr Lawton told the court that Patient 6 would ask you to “do puppy eyes” if he wanted you to apologise to him for something. Mr Lawton, in response to a question from Ms Brown, told the court that nothing up to that point had caused him any concern.

MsB: Half way down page 90, Ryan Fuller just said “get everyone out, me and you sort it out in here, then we’ll be friends again”. What did you think to that?

DL: I didn’t think anything, Ryan was engaged with Patient 6 in conversation, Ryan is trying to get back into his good books, as far as I was concerned it was banter back and forwards from Patient 6 and Ryan.

At that point court was adjourned for lunch.

After lunch Ms Brown continued to play more footage, asking Mr Lawton periodically to comment. Mr Lawton explained a couple of actions and comments he made to Patient 6 and said he was not mocking Patient 6 when asked on two occasions.

Ms Brown played more of the clip before pausing and asking further questions.

MsB: When you’re pointing at Mr Fuller’s hand

DL: Yes

MsB: What are you doing there?

DL: I’m trying to get Patient 6 to shake his hand

MsB: Why?

DL: All Ryan wanted to do was be friends with him again

Ms Brown played more of the clip before pausing and asking further questions.

MsB: Patient 6 has just got up off the sofa there, you take a drink of coffee, was there anything about his behaviour there that caused you any concern?

DL: No

MsB: Would this be quite normal for him? To get up and move to another part of the room?

DL: Yes

MsB: Would he be allowed to do that?

DL: Yes

Ms Brown played more of the clip before pausing and asking further questions.

MsB: We’ve just heard a male voice say “Ryan is in charge now”. Did you say that?

DL: No

MsB: Then a male voice says “Ryans a gay boy, he’s a singer”. Did you say that?

DL: No

In response to a question from Ms Brown, Mr Lawton confirmed that he had not been mocking Patient 6.

Ms Brown played more of the clip before pausing and asking further questions. Mr Lawton explained that he got up and removed a plastic card box because it could be easily snapped in half and Patient 6 could do some damage with it.

Ms Brown played more of the clip before pausing and asking further questions including whether Patient 6 was becoming elevated, Mr Lawton said he wasn’t but “you still have to be on the ball and assess the risk all the time”.

Ms Brown played more of the clip before pausing and asking further questions.

MsB: That’s the first section, the last part of that bottom p105 a male has said “who’s the dick man” and you say “you are, you’re acting like one at the moment” and you say “Budgie man” is that Budgie Burgess?

DL: It is yes

MsB: Can you tell us what’s going on there?

DL: I think Budgie had done something to annoy Patient 6 and I’m trying to tell him to stop

MsB: When you say “you’re acting like one” who were you talking to?

DL: Can’t remember

MsB: Then you say “fuck Budgie” and the clip ends. From what you’ve seen, have you been mocking Patient 6?

DL: No not at all

MsB: Have you and Ryan Fuller been acting together to mock Patient 6?

DL: No not at all

Ms Brown then played a later clip, when everyone is out in the garden in the snow. Ms Brown played the clip, pausing to ask clarification questions.

MsB: Top of p111, Patient 6 has just said “dickhead, wanker, wanker, fuck face” and Mr Fuller says “I like you though” and a male voice says “I like you now”. Was that male voice you?

DL: No

MsB: Then we hear you say “what’s this?” Why did you say what’s this?

DL: Because Patient 6 was doing certain hand gestures and he’s quite visual. If I say what’s this without repeating what he’s done he’s no idea what I’m talking about.

MsB: Why draw it to his attention at all?

DL: Because I’ve seen Patient 6 do a lot of hand gestures but never that one.

Ms Brown played more of the clip. In response to questions from Ms Brown, Mr Lawton told the court that he wasn’t mocking or ill-treating Patient 6. He also told the court that he couldn’t see that his actions caused Patient 6 any concern, harm or distress.

Ms Brown played more of the clip, pausing to ask questions. Mr Lawton said that he believed he said “stop shouting through the window” to Patient 6 because he’d been shouting at a staff member called Sonya through the window. Mr Lawton said he couldn’t remember why he was laughing in the footage, but he may have been talking to someone through the window.

Ms Brown then moved to the next clip from the footage which she said was taken an hour later. Before she did that she asked Mr Lawton if anything he’d seen from the footage in the garden was him ill-treating Patient 6, whether him and Mr Fuller together were ill-treating Patient 6, and whether Patient 6 was elevating from his baseline out in the garden and Mr Lawton replied no to all those questions.

Ms Brown played the start of the next clip and asked Mr Lawton who he was saying “leave him alone, stop winding him up” to. He told the court that he was speaking to Sonya at that point and Patient 6 had a “fixation” on Sonya, believing that she was going to adopt him.

Ms Brown played the remainder of the clip asking Mr Lawton to explain what was happening on a number of occasions. The court heard that Patient 6 didn’t like open doors and that was why he was getting up and closing the door, trying to lock it. At one stage Mr Lawton agrees that Patient 6 might be elevated from his baseline, “getting there slightly but that could have been all the carry on with the other service users and staff members coming through the garden room”.

When the clip finished Ms Brown asked Mr Lawton whether he felt concerned or unhappy about what had happened on that day, 2 February 2019, and he said no. Mr Lawton also told the court that he did not ill-treat Patient 6.

Ms Brown then moved onto the next topic which she’d grouped as speaking to colleagues and background evidence.

MsB: When you went home from shift who could you speak to about work?

DL: Nobody

MsB: Why?

DL: All down to confidentiality, I couldn’t go talk to my partner about anything, restraints, or anything good really, it was against confidentiality

MsB: Did Whorlton Hall, Cygnet give you any outlet for stress?

DL: No

MsB: Any counselling?

DL: No

MsB: Anything to help with your wellbeing?

DL: No

MsB: Who could you speak to about work?

DL: Other staff members

Ms Brown said that the background clips had been recorded by Olivia Davies on her covert camera.

MsB: What was your relationship like with Olivia?

DL: I suppose she was a young girl, she was a good looking young girl, she was very flirty with all the male staff, I guess, yeh she was flirty, she kind of like lured you in a little bit.

MsB: How did you feel about her?

DL: Umm she was nice, aye, good looking

MsB: How did you feel about speaking in front of her?

DL: I didn’t really have a problem speaking in front of her.

Asked by Ms Brown if he’d agree with the description of him as a joker, Mr Lawton said he would. In response to questions he told the court that he’d always been a joker, including in the army and he said “it basically comes from my own mental health… its my own coping mechanism, as such”.

Ms Brown then played another video clip, AJS/27 and wanted to focus on the discussion about a restraint after the 1-2-3 MAYBO incident.

MsB: Mr Lawton you seem to be describing a restraint that you and Ryan Fuller have been involved in?

DL: Yes

MsB: Can you recall that restraint?

DL: I don’t actually recall that restraint no.

MsB: Is it possible it did happen?

DL: It probably did happen as both of us are describing it.

Ms Brown referenced the transcript and asked Mr Lawton to describe what happened in that restraint.

DL: Sounds like me and Ryan Fuller have started a restraint and is only the two of us, and the person we restrained is a biter or a spitter. If only two of us there, we have to do everything to protect ourselves in that situation, even though we raised elbows and stopped them from turning their head, that stops us from getting injured and them from getting injured.

MsB: Why are you laughing about the incident?

DL: I suppose it’s my own jokiness

MsB: Patient 5 is present while you’re having the discussion isn’t he?

DL: Yes

MsB: Why are you discussing it in front of him?

DL: Restraints were quite often discussed in front of service users. For instance if you were doing a debrief, you’d normally if you were on observations, someone would come up to your debrief, the debrief would be done in front of the service user

HHJ: That would be talking about their own restraint?

DL: Could be talking about someone else’s restraint, if it happened in the morning and came to do debrief in afternoon would be with a different service user

In response to questions Mr Lawton agreed that this wasn’t a debrief that was happening here.

Ms Brown plays a different clip, AJS/37 Clip 3. Mr Lawton says that it is Patient 5 stood in the doorway and that they are in his lounge.

MsB: Just pausing there, you’ve been talking about someone kicking off when they have to have plastic cutlery what patient are you talking about there?

DL: That would have been Patient [missed it]

MsB: Why are you laughing about that?

DL: It’s my own silliness, my own stupidity

Ms Brown plays more of the clip stopping and asking questions twice.

MsB: Discussion about you and Matthew being on night shift and putting someone, slamming them on the floor in lounge 2 and putting them in the lift in the middle of the night

DL: Yes I do believe that was Patient 4 who’d escaped his staff during the night and was on a protest in lounge 2

MsB: Did you slam him on the floor?

DL: No, we restrained him, was just the word put in at the time

MsB: Did you pick him up so his feet didn’t touch the floor and bung him in the lift?

DL: Did I say the lift?

HHJ: Leaving the lift, what about his feet not touching the floor?

DL: Well we did lift him arm to arm and take him back to his room

MsB: What’s that?

DL: Cradle technique

MsB: Is that an approved technique?

DL: Yes

MsB: Would someone’s feet touch the floor?

DL: Yes

MsB: You say here “fucking picked him up, his feet didn’t touch the floor”?

DL: Me and Matthew are both taller than him

Ms Brown played the clip again.

MsB: “Bunged him in the lift, middle of her night and then I fucking left”, Niall Mellor says “did you write it up or leave him”. You say “no left him in there”… Would that have happened?

DL: If we were escorting him would have been safer to use the lift

MsB: Did you leave him in the lift?

DL: No

MsB: Why have you described it like this when speaking to Olivia and Niall Mellor?

DL: I suppose I was just trying to be clever

Ms Brown plays more of the clip before asking more questions.

MsB: You say Patient 1 will be fine, just tell her you’re going to push the man button. Explain that to the jury please.

DL: The man button was something I was shown shortly after I started and it was explained to me it was used as a distraction technique

MsB: Did you ever use it?

DL: Personally no

MsB: How much interaction did you have with Patient 1?

DL: Very little, Patient 1 realistically only ever associated me with restraint

MsB: Why is that?

DL: Because the only time I was ever seen by her was just before a restraint or in a restraint

MsB: Did you ever say to Patient 1 you were going to push the man button?

DL: Personally no

MsB: Did you encourage others to push the man button?

DL: No

Ms Brown played the clip on, asking more questions.

MsB: Bottom p30 says “right, are you going to behave yourself now? Best do”. Did you say that?

DL: Yes

MsB: What did you mean by that?

DL: Asked if he was going to behave himself and restated he needed to behave himself and that was Patient 4 calling us fucking bastards on the ground

MsB: Are you describing an incident of ill-treatment?

DL: No

MsB: Why are you describing it in this way, with the laughter and the language?

DL: That’s just the way I was obviously having conversations with other members of staff, at that point it was the only time you could decompress when you were talking to other people. I suppose try to make a joke out of it and lighten things up, and laughing. Helped you get past that.

Ms Brown played the rest of that clip before asking more questions. She then played AJS/37 Clip 1.

MsB: You talk at top of page 92, “Me and Ryan took him down on Tuesday”

DL: Yes

MsB: Saying that you’ve took someone down why are you describing it like that?

DL: It’s me speaking in my own words, I’m speaking to another staff member, there’s no one else around

MsB: How did you feel about having this sort of conversation in front of Olivia?

DL: Wouldn’t feel any different to any other staff member

Ms Brown plays more of the clip before asking more questions.

MsB: What do you mean by that, when you go into Patient 1’s bedroom she goes mental because the only time she ever sees me is when she goes on the floor. What do you mean by that?

DL: She only saw me before or during a restraint so all she associated me with is a restraint

Ms Brown plays more of the clip before asking more questions.

MsB: “I’ve dragged her, fucking physically dragged her off that bed”. Have you dragged Patient 1 off a bed?

DL: No not dragged her, I’ve moved her off her bed

MsB: Why?

DL: Because you can’t restrain on bed, she has to be on the floor

MsB: Why is it unsafe on a bed?

DL: Because it’s a confined space, it’s too soft, the mattresses were slippy because they were PVC plastic, being on the floor is a flat safe place where it could be controlled

MsB: How would you get Patient 1 from the bed to the floor?

DL: You’d have to lift her

MsB: Would you drag her?

DL: If at one point you had her legs you’d drag her, it would be classified as dragging, but would be other staff members to get her arms at that point.

MsB: The techniques you’ve described for getting her off the bed, are they approved or made up?

DL: I don’t know if was an approved technique, was what I was shown

MsB: Shown by who?

DL: Can’t remember. There’s lot of instances where MAYBO can’t help you, it’s not a generic thing, but as long as its controlled and it’s a safe descent to the floor then I can’t see the issue with it

Ms Brown plays more of the clip before asking more questions.

MsB: Still talking about Patient 1, you said three staff in there trying to get her phone off her, you’d walked in and said “give me that dickhead” and she said “sorry Darren”. Did that happen?

DL: Presume so, yes, but without the dickhead part

MsB: Why do you go and get her phone off her?

DL: From what I remember alarm has been pulled, was 3 staff in there and all she was doing was kicking out, they weren’t making any progress whatsoever, needed to get phone off her to diffuse situation and I walked in and got it off her

MsB: Did you ill-treat Patient 1 in any way?

DL: No not at all

MsB: Did you call her a dickhead?

DL: No

Ms Brown played more footage and asked more questions. Mr Lawton told the court that he was repeating what he’d heard from other conversations.

Court then adjourned for an afternoon break before Ms Brown playing more footage on return.

MsB: First thing you say is “the night, the morning after we had Patient 7 up against the wall” did you have Patient 7 up against the wall?

DL: I don’t remember that

MsB: Would you have Patient 7 up against a wall?

DL: No

MsB: Were you often with Patient 7?

DL: No, but I was part of her selected core team

Ms Brown explained to the jury that in her PBS Plan Patient 7 had identified “some staff she’s more comfortable with and talking to” and asked Mr Lawton if he was on that preferred list of staff and he told the court that he was.

MsB: “If you want to fight I’m sure Darren is up for it, go on go on”. To the best of your knowledge has anyone ever said that to a patient?

DL: I honestly can’t remember

MsB: Has anyone ever said that in your hearing?

DL: I cant remember

MsB: Have you ever encouraged this perception as someone who’d be up for it?

DL: No

Ms Brown played more of the clip before asking Mr Lawton why he said what he’d said. He said some of the things didn’t happen, for example he didn’t take his keys off, and others he couldn’t remember saying.

MsB: Why are you describing this event in this way to Niall and Olivia?

DL: It’s just conversation happening in my own words to another member of staff.

HHJ: That’s the second time you’ve used that phrase. What do you mean by in your own words, obviously they’re the words you chose, what do you mean by the phrase in your own words?

DL: If I was at home talking to my missus, or in the pub talking to the lads, that would look as unprofessional but just me and members of staff, is no service users around, was just having conversation with staff how I would normally talk

HHJ: You talk about speaking to your partner or speaking to the lads, your friends, your mates, are you saying it’s all the same, whether you’re talking to partner, mate or work colleagues out of the hearing of service users, is that what you’re saying?

DL: Yes

Ms Brown moved on to play more footage, AJS/37 Clip 4 and asked Mr Lawton what he felt about Niall Mellor speaking to him in the way he had and he said he didn’t feel anything, when asked about a comment Olivia Davies had made he said “to be fair, I don’t even know what she’s talking about”.

Ms Brown moved on to play a final clip, AJS/37 Clip 5.

MsB: Did you and Alex Hall “torture the fucking daylights” out of Patient 6 on Christmas Day?

DL: No

Ms Brown asked Mr Lawton what had happened about Christmas for Patient 6 and he told the court that Patient 6 would always get anxious about birthdays or Christmas and that the plan was that they’d take a present in to him at 9am and then give him a present every hour, “to try and get the stimulus down as much as possible”. Mr Lawton told the court that when he went into Patient 6 at 9am on Christmas Day he “jumped up and got agitated right away and said Christmas is cancelled”. Mr Lawton’s evidence to the court was that he’d spoken to a nurse who had told them to try and spur him on with Christmas. Asked if Patient 6 would be allowed to eat a mince pie if he’d wanted one, Mr Lawton said yes, before saying that it was Patient 6 who had cancelled Christmas, not him, and that he was not taunting him on Christmas Day.

Ms Brown asked Mr Lawton how he felt about how he presented in the clips.

MsB: Looking at those clips … how do you feel about how you present in those clips

DL: The discussion about the restraint in front of Patient 5, I kind of find that to be, yes it is unprofessional

HHJ: You say that is unprofessional?

DL: I would say that it would be unprofessional of me to have done that. The conversations between me and Niall, was just a conversation between two members of staff, we were talking in our own perspective. I don’t feel I did anything wrong.

MsB: Are the clips an accurate reflection of how you felt about the people in your care?

DL: No

MsB: Are they an accurate reflection of how you were treating the people in your care?

DL: No

MsB: Were you ever spoken to about the way you spoke to colleagues?

DL: No

MsB: Were you ever reported about the way you spoke to colleagues?

DL: No

Ms Brown moved on to ask Mr Lawton about his police interviews, the first of which was on his birthday on 24 May 2019 at Darlington Police Station. Mr Lawton told the court that the legal advice he got at that time was that the questions he’d be asked were generalisations and nothing to do with specific allegations towards him so he was advised not to comment.

His second interview under caution took place on 28 July 2020.

MsB: You attended the interview as a voluntary attender didn’t you?

DL: I did yes

MsB: We see you had an appropriate adult with you in that interview. What had been going on in the weeks before this interview?

DL: Um, for about, since after this happened, a massive detrimental affect on my mental health. I was on different medications, I was drinking a lot, I’d been in and out of hospital numerous times. A few weeks before this interview I had a psychotic break, and tried to commit suicide.

MsB: Ok, just pause there, when you say after this happened, you mean after the programme was shown, after your arrest?

DL: Yes. I’d spent time in hospital, been placed on new medication, um so when I volunteered this interview I was supposed to have this interview beforehand but I was in hospital, so I agreed to this. Although maybes I should have moved it a little bit further on because I was settling into my new medication.

MsB: How did you feel in this interview?

DL: Quite hazy.

Mr Lawton told the court, in response to Ms Brown’s questions that he “wasn’t in the right frame of mind and I just couldn’t remember. I remember one of the officers telling me that can’t remember is no defence, but yeh”.

MsB: Were you answering that you can’t remember because you were trying to frustrate the investigation in any way?

DL: No not at all

MsB: Were you putting this on in any way?

DL: No not at all

MsB: How do you feel now compared to this interview?

DL: I no longer drink, haven’t had a drink in 2 years, been on the same medication for same length of time and I’m a lot clearer than I was at the time

Ms Brown’s final topic was after Whorlton Hall. Mr Lawton told the court that he resigned on 12 May 2019 and he sent his resignation by email.

MsB: Why did you leave?

DL: Um, just, I resigned rather than just I didn’t want anything to do with the company any more

MsB: Did you know about the Panorama documentary by that point?

DL: At the time I resigned? Yes

MsB: Prosecution say you are guilty of ill-treatment of residents at Whorlton Hall. Are you?

DL: No

MsB: Thank you, if you wait there please will be some questions

There were no questions for Mr Lawton from counsel for any of the other defendants. The jury were sent home for the evening at 16:15.

19 April 2023

Ms Richardson told the court that DC Simms would be assisting her with playing the video clips, in the absence of Mr Herrmann.

MsR: Did you feel you had the necessary qualities to be an effective and sympathetic healthcare assistant?

DL: Qualities? What do you mean

MsR: You tell me what sort of qualities an effective healthcare assistant needs?

DL: Compassion, empathy, I wouldn’t say knowledge because that’s what you could gain through it

MsR: Did you think you had compassion and empathy?

DL: Yes

Ms Richardson asked Mr Lawton whether the managers were Mr Chris Shield and Mr Stephen Robdrup, he confirmed that they were. He also agreed that Mr Bennett and Mr Banner were seniors.

MsR: Thank you. You told the jury yesterday there was a lack of training, but one of the matters that was clear wasn’t it, was that restraints were a tertiary strategy. You didn’t ball in with a restraint straight away, you’d try primary and secondary strategies first?

DL: Yes

MsR: And [restraint] should only be used when all else failed?

DL: Yes

MsR: Or staff or other patients were at risk from the patient in question, would that be right?

DL: Yes

MsR: You described yesterday to the jury restraints are uncomfortable for staff and for patients.

DL: That’s correct

MsR: It certainly wouldn’t be something, a restraint, to boast about would it?

DL: Not boast about, no

Ms Richardson asked Mr Lawton whether by and large, outings, activities and special occasions such as birthdays and Christmas would be looked forward to by patients, given they were on Section 3 Mental Health Act orders. Mr Lawton told the court, not by every patient.

MsR: It would be a change from the normal?

DL: Some of them went out daily, some weekly, some not at all.

Mr Lawton told the court that he worked with Patient 5 a little bit. He agreed that when he went into his room, in Count 23, Patient 5 wasn’t doing anything he shouldn’t have been.

MsR: Was he shouting? Being difficult and obstreperous to Ryan Fuller?

DL: No

MsR: You can’t tell us before you went in, but when you did he wasn’t doing anything he shouldn’t have been, as far as you were concerned?

DL: No

MsR: You accepted to police that MAYBO wouldn’t be used unless a patient needed restraining in some form?

DL: That’s right yes

MsR: When you heard Mr Fuller say 1-2-3-MAYBO did you ask him what he was doing?

DL: No

MsR: Did you ask him why he was doing that?

DL: No

MsR: Why not?

DL: When I entered the room I thought Patient 5 was going along with it, he was a willing participant

MsR: Bearing in mind you just told us MAYBO shouldn’t be used unless a patient required restraining in some type or form, why was restraining Patient 5 in that way correct?

DL: He wasn’t in a restraint

MsR: 1-2-3-MAYBO and lie on the floor. Are you saying that’s something that happened frequently?

DL: I’d never seen it before

MsR: Were you concerned by what you saw?

DL: No Patient 5 didn’t appear distressed in any way, shape or form

Ms Richardson asked Mr Lawton why he said no comment to the police officer asking him about that incident in his second interview and Mr Lawton responded:

DL: Like I explained yesterday I wasn’t really in any fit state to be in the interview, the way I felt at the time, whether it was no comment or can’t remember, to myself would have been one and the same

Ms Richardson asked Mr Lawton if he’d raised his concerns with his solicitor or the appropriate adult and he said that he didn’t. In response to a question from Ms Richardson he said it was made clear to him that the interview could be stopped at any time if he didn’t feel very well.

Ms Richardson said that she’d not repeat most of the clips that Ms Brown had played the previous day, but there were three clips that she wished to show Mr Lawton. She played AJS/27 Clip 3.

MsR: Before Mr Fuller said 1-2-3-MAYBO, when you were out of the room, we see you in the room, you go out to the corridor having said “what happens when you hit staff?” and when you come back in you say quietly “what happens when you hit staff?” twice. What were you doing in saying that three times to Patient 5?

DL: I was having a conversation with Patient 5

MsR: He wasn’t hitting you?

DL: No

MsR: He wasn’t hitting Mr Fuller as far as you can tell?

DL: No

MsR: He wasn’t hitting Ms Davies, who’s clearly in room because she’s filming this?

DL: No

MsR: Why of all the conversations you could have had with this man, you say three times, what happens when you hit staff?

DL: I thought he was in the conversation Ryan was having with Olivia

MsR: Do you think he wanted to lie on the floor and effectively be a figure of fun to you all?

DL: Didn’t know what he was saying ah fuck to, could have been that, could have been what was on the TV at the time

MsR: It’s a matter for the jury. It appears he says “ah fuck” … after Mr Fuller shouted 1-2-3-MAYBO. Did you consider the possibility he wasn’t going along with all this, when he says “ah come on” in your presence?

DL: I don’t know what he was referring to

MsR: You were laughing weren’t you?

DL: I was. As I said yesterday, laughing and joking was my way of dealing with things.

Ms Richardson asked more questions and Mr Lawton said that he couldn’t say whether he was decompressing here because he might have been in a restraint prior to this occasion.

MsR: So please tell me if I’m wrong, your evidence yesterday appeared to be you’d never seen it before? And you thought Mr Fuller was showing Olivia Davies what 1-2-3-MAYBO was?

DL: I believe so yes

MsR: So why did you join in?

DL: Because I thought, obviously Patient 5 and Ryan Fuller were having a laugh

MsR: Why did you join in? You say “we don’t do prone”, when he’s on the chair, Patient 5 is on the chair. Why did you need to say that if all that was happening as far as you thought was Olivia Davies was shown this by Ryan Fuller?

DL: I wasn’t there when it was instigated, I thought was Ryan Fuller and Patient 5 having a bit of banter with each other, so just entered into it

MsR: If just banter when Ryan Fuller said “we look like a bunch of bastards”, did you agree that’s what you looked like?

DL: I didn’t agree to anything

MsR: What do you think a senior nurse would say if they walked in?

DL: I can’t say what anyone would say

Ms Richardson was then self deprecating about her size and asked Mr Lawton if he was likely to be of similar build and weight to in the videos and he told the court he was 5ft 10 and he thought that he probably weighed more in the videos then he did now. He accepted that he was of a bigger build than Patient 5.

Ms Richardson said that Mr Lawton’s evidence yesterday had been that it popped into his head to make a wrestling move.

MsR: You said in your evidence… it just popped into your mind to do knee and that booof we hear. You say it was wrestling, like you do with your kids. Just unpicking that, are you saying Ryan Fuller on a chair is a wrestling move?

DL: Looked like it to me, I’d say so, yes

MsR: Did you tell Patient 5 this is something I do with my children?

DL: No

MsR: Did you hear Ryan Fuller saying what he was doing was just a wrestling move?

DL: No

MsR: You and Ryan Fuller were being deliberately cruel to that patient weren’t you?

DL: No. Not at all

MsR: Thought it would be funny to treat him in that way?

DL: No not at all

Ms Richardson asked Mr Lawton if he’d taken his keys off and his alarm off to fight with a patient, he said he hadn’t.

MsR: So why would you say that?

DL: Just added it in

MsR: But for what purpose?

DL: Wasn’t really any purpose, I just elaborated on a story that’s all

MsR: You elaborated on a story. So were there elements of the story that were true?

DL: Like what?

MsR: I don’t know, is your story you’re elaborating on

DL: As I said yesterday Patient 5 did start to escalate, take my shoe off and throw it at me, he squared up to me, what I did was stand up and stand my ground

Ms Richardson returned to the answer that Mr Lawton gave, that he was elaborating a story, for no purpose.

MsR: Another way of putting it was you just lied to them [colleagues]. Are you lying to this jury?

DL: Just showing off

Ms Richardson then asked Mr Lawton if he had a problem with Patient 1, he said “no” and when asked whether Patient 1 had a problem with him he said possibly, adding that “only time Patient 1 ever seen me from what I remember was obviously during a restraint, or getting there just as possible restraint was occurring”. When Ms Richardson asked Mr Lawton if this wasn’t something he’d “just elaborated or made up” he responded “no”.

Ms Richardson then moved on to ask Mr Lawton about the man button, referencing his police interview.

MsR: You say whenever she sees me she knows she’s going to go on the floor and they say what do you mean by that? You say it was just a comment I made up. What was context? You say no context just made it up. Why? Don’t have a reason just made it up.

What’s the truth Mr Lawton. What you told this jury or what you’ve told the police?

DL: Like I said in this interview my knowledge and way I was feeling didn’t clarify everything, way I was feeling I couldn’t answer everything, obviously over time and where I am now I do have a lot more clarity on the situation.

Ms Richardson took Mr Lawton to a transcript of a clip he’d been shown previously and asked him what he understood by the man button. He responded “not a lot really, was shown it as a distraction technique early on when I started”. Mr Lawton couldn’t define it, couldn’t say whether it was a button on clothing, something you hold or just a phrase. In response to more questions from Ms Richardson he couldn’t remember who’d told him about it, but he said it was “possibly” one of the seniors, and agreed that was what he’d told the police.

Ms Richardson moved on to ask about Patient 1 and balloons and Mr Lawton told the court that he’d never personally worked with Patient 1 and he had no knowledge about balloons. He was taken to a conversation between staff where this was discussed. Asked whether he thought it was funny to try and wind patients up, Mr Lawton told the court that he’d “never wound up a patient”.

Ms Richardson took to transcript for another clip where Mr Lawton told colleagues that he’d left Patient 4 in a lift.

MsR: Then you say left him in the lift in the middle of the night, Niall Mellor says we need more of that. Want to unpick a little bit. Are you telling the jury that is what happened?

DL: On there, no

MsR: Are you saying it’s you joking around, trying to be clever as you said yesterday?

DL: Yes

MsR: Did you think it was clever to be bragging about someone with Patient 4’s difficulties? Leaving him in a lift overnight?

DL: I didn’t leave him in the lift

MsR: Why do you go quiet when Budgie came in? Is it because you knew what you were doing was wrong?

DL: Don’t know

MsR: Patient 4 doesn’t have the mental acumen that you have, does he?

DL: No

Ms Richardson moves to a later conversation in the same clip.

MsR: When we look over the page there page 90, again you’re saying “he’s a regular fucking something, shuts his door”… do you have that?

DL: Yes

MsR: Again, you describe there to the assembled throng “goes in shuts the fucking door. I was like how dare you call anyone a fat cunt, have you seen yourself”… want to understand your evidence about that. Is that what happened or is that you elaborating?

DL: That’s me elaborating

MsR: Why were you elaborating?

DL: Just trying to be clever

MsR: Or lying to other members of staff?

DL: No, trying to be clever

MsR: Clever to whom?

DL: Probably trying show off to Olivia

MsR: By boasting about shouting and shutting the door in someone’s face?

DL: I didn’t shut the door in his face

MsR: No, you’re boasting “if you carry on like that we’ll come in and start all over again”.

DL: If he was shouting we would go back in and start all over again.

MsR: But this is just you elaborating? Being a joker?

DL: Yes

Ms Richardson then moved to asking Mr Lawton about Patient 6. He confirmed what he was like and agreed that he was someone he worked with a lot, who at times could be aggressive and at times could become easily agitated.

MsR: Do you accept someone with Patient 6’s difficulties might not easily understand the nuances of humour and sarcasm, like you would?

DL: Patient 6 had good sense of humour. He knew how to be human.

MsR: Of course he knew how to be human, he is human.

DL: He is yes

Ms Richardson discussed Patient 6’s Christmas being cancelled with Mr Lawton. He couldn’t remember which nurse was on duty. Mr Lawton told the court that with Patient 6 they had to “think outside the box, try things on a daily basis, might work, might not work”.

Ms Richardson then discussed Mr Lawton’s evidence he’d given about the clips relating to Count 26 with him.

MsR: Just want to understand what your evidence is on that, AJS/29, was the only time Patient 6 became anything other than baseline was right at the end of the clips where he’s saying door, door close door?

DL: Yes

MsR: You saw footage of what was happening between Patient 6 and Mr Fuller in Mr Fuller’s examination and yesterday, you have it well in mind?

DL: Yes

Ms Richardson asked about a comment made about beards, and Mr Lawton said that him and Patient 6 were having a beard growing competition. Ms Richardson asked if Mr Lawton agreed with the way Mr Fuller was talking to Patient 6 in the garden.

MsR: That’s what I’m asking, not asking whether you’d say it, but asking if the way Ryan Fuller was going on with Patient 6 was something you agreed with?

DL: As far as I know Ryan and Patient 6 were just having a bit of banter with each other, so why would I not agree with it?

MsR: Ok. You knew Patient 6 didn’t like Ryan Fuller didn’t you?

DL: Their relationship was starting to get better

MsR: This is a patient you’ve described as can be volatile, can be aggressive, frequently attacks staff, he had a large wound on his forehead, how did he get that?

DL: When he came from his previous placement he’d been headbutting doors and wall corners

MsR: So much so he has a scar?

DL: It was repetitive

MsR: Against that background are you saying you had no concerns about the conversation between Ryan Fuller and Patient 6?

DL: No, I didn’t

HHJ: You didn’t have any concerns?

DL: No. I didn’t

MsR: Again is your evidence when you’re out in the snow Patient 6 didn’t elevate from his baseline?

DL: No he didn’t

Ms Richardson suggested that Patient 6 was becoming increasingly agitated before they went outside.

MsR: Patient 6 was becoming increasingly agitated wasn’t he, we see him unzipping his jacket

DL: That’s not because he’s getting wound up

Ms Richardson said that she had a matter of law to raise and HHJ Smith asked the jury to wait in the ante room.

When they returned Ms Richardson took Mr Lawton to his defence statement, that he’d prepared with his legal team. Ms Richardson read from it.

MsR: When Fuller returned with crisps and began to wind Patient 6 up calling him a shit bag, the accused, that’s you, recognised Patient 6 was getting agitated, he stood up and began to unzip his hoody, was a recognised sign Patient 6 was getting agitated… accused removed a plastic box and prevented Patient 6 going towards Ryan Fuller and blocking his approach. So firstly, did you think Mr Fuller was winding him up?

DL: Um, yes

MsR: And did you think Patient 6 unzipping his hoody was a recognised sign he might turn violent?

DL: Sometimes it could be, yes, it all depends

Ms Richardson moved on to ask about the time outside in the snow. Mr Lawton agreed that being outside was a pleasant change, and said he had no concerns about Patient 6 being outside.

MsR: Were you concerned once outside Mr Fuller was continuing to wind up Patient 6 outside?

DL: I wasn’t concerned no

MsR: We see on the long clip yesterday Patient 6 approaching Mr Fuller and Mr Fuller walking backwards. Were you concerned at all about Patient 6’s behaviour then towards Mr Fuller?

DL: No

MsR: Did you do everything within your power to ensure Patient 6’s behaviour didn’t escalate as a result of what Ryan Fuller was doing or saying?

DL: I believe so

MsR: So you don’t agree what we see there is Patient 6’s behaviour becoming increasingly aggressive?

DL: Not really no because from situation where he was in, if he’d become aggressive could attack staff, was close enough to windows to start punching windows, another way to become aggressive.

MsR: Something he did when he became aggressive?

DL: Yes, he did quite a lot

MsR: Anxious to avoid?

DL: Yes

MsR: He doesn’t like being poked fun of Patient 6?

DL: What do you mean?

MsR: Being laughed at and not with, no one does

DL: No

MsR: How did singing Mr Bright Eyes, how did you think that would help Patient 6 de-escalate?

DL: Just popped into my head and automatically started singing it, was nothing in it, just popped in to my head

Ms Richardson took Mr Lawton to another point in the transcript and asked who he’d told to stop shouting through the window.

MsR: Now you said in your evidence yesterday you’d said that to Patient 6. Yes?

DL: Did I?

MsR: I believe so. Who was it you were saying stop shouting to the window?

DL: From what I remember from yesterday I couldn’t say who was shouting through the window

MsR: It was Ryan Fuller shouting through the window wasn’t it?

DL: I was further along, nowhere near Ryan

MsR: Few seconds after you suggest stop shouting through the window Mr Fuller shuts the window doesn’t he?

DL: That could just be a coincidence

Mr Lawton said that he could have been speaking to Ryan or to Patient 6 or to someone at the window. Ms Richardson read to Mr Lawton from his defence statement: “whilst clear Mr Fuller continued to wind Patient 6 up, the accused, you, also tried to deescalate what was happening, the accused instructed Mr Fuller to stop winding Patient 6 up”.

Mr Lawton asked if there was any footage of that and Ms Richardson said it was his document. Mr Lawton told the court from the footage he’d seen he didn’t think he told Mr Fuller to stop winding Patient 6 up. He told the court that when he prepared his statement he didn’t have as much video as had been shown in the trial.

After some further discussion Ms Richardson said that she was going to move on.

MsR: We also saw what could be described as mock masturbation moves, by you and Mr Fuller. Do you accept my description of them?

DL: No

MsR: You don’t. OK it’s not just my description Mr Lawton, it’s your description as well, you told the ladies and gentlemen of the jury you amended your defence statement and so you did, to be fair to you is at your honours [ref] is paragraph 5 Ms Brown

“The defendant accepts he briefly made masturbation gestures, this was in response to gestures made by Patient 6. He asked Patient 6 what’s this? before making the simulated masturbation gesture”

So can you help us with why it is you don’t accept my description of mock masturbation movement?

Ms Richardson checked and Mr Lawton agreed that Patient 6 was not nonverbal and Mr Lawton said that he was doing the masturbation gesture to Patient 6 so that he could understand, he wasn’t mocking him.

MsR: You’re just mocking him and making fun of him aren’t you?

DL: No

MsR: Can we play it please, this is AJS/39 Clip 4. There’s you, next to Mr Fuller, you’re not doing that just once, you’re doing it several times, you are mocking him aren’t you?

DL: No

Ms Richardson played another clip and asked Mr Lawton about it.

MsR: You say to Mr Fuller there, “look what you’ve made him do” and Mr Fuller says “how have I made him do that?”. What did you think Mr Fuller had done?

DL: Nothing, was just winding Ryan up

MsR: You were just winding Ryan up this time, I see. So, he hadn’t done anything, when you say look what you’ve made him do?

DL: No because he’s outside

MsR: This was simply winding up Patient 6 wasn’t it?

DL: No

MsR: It was cruel, deliberate treatment of that man wasn’t it?

DL: I’ve never been cruel to Patient 6

MsR: Thank you

Ms Brown then asked Mr Lawton about the difference between what he’d said in his defence statement, signed and dated 14 March 2022 and what he’d told the court today.

MsB: And your paragraph 18 was read to you, says “accused instructed Fuller to stop winding Patient 6 up” and now you are saying in your evidence that it wasn’t Mr Fuller you were instructing to stop winding him him up, is that right?

DL: That’s correct yeh, watching videos back now and full extent of videos, is only one person I physically tell to stop winding Patient 6 up

MsB: What’s the reason for that difference?

DL: Whether I didn’t understand questions, its come to light now I’ve watched full length video.

MrB: No further questions in re-examination, unless any from your honour?

HHJ: Do you know who you were saying it to?

DL: Yeh it was Sonya and I shouted through the window, stop winding him up

HHJ: What was she doing?

DL: Patient 6 had a fascination with her, he thought she was going to adopt him, would focus on her quite a lot, him staring through the window would elevate him, so I told her to stop winding him up.

HHJ: Just help me with this, gesture Patient 6 makes, described as masturbation gesture

DL: Yes

HHJ: You saw him do that?

DL: I did yes

HHJ: If a patient was doing a masturbation gesture, would that be appropriate, for the patient?

DL: Patients used to do quite a lot of things like that

HHJ: I know they do. Would it be appropriate?

DL: I couldn’t really say whether it was appropriate or not. I can’t stop him doing what he’s doing.

HHJ: I suppose you could ask him to couldn’t you?

DL: Which is exactly what I did

HHJ: That’s what you saying you were doing, asking him to stop?

DL: No I wasn’t asking him to stop, was asking what he was doing, and showing him. If I asked him what was that without me showing him he wouldn’t know what I was talking about.

HHJ: Why didn’t you say please don’t do that?

DL: Perhaps I could of

HHJ: Alright, thank you very much, if you want to return to your place

Ms Brown said the next part of Mr Lawton’s case was some additional agreed facts. The usher passed them out and Ms Brown explained where they were to be put.

HHJ Smith explained to the jury that it didn’t matter who was giving out agreed facts, whether they received them as part of the prosecution or defence case, they were all agreed.

The first additional agreed fact was that all the additional documents in the bundle Ms Brown provided were all documents that the prosecution provided to the defence, they all came from records held by Cygnet and provided to the police.

The second additional fact was a transcript of the extract of covert filming footage of the training session delivered by Stephen Robdrup and it’s as far as possible an accurate transcript of what was heard on footage.

The final agreed fact was that in the wider footage viewed by police, it was believed that Patient 5 was asleep next door in one of the clips of a conversation between staff, and he is woken later for medication.

The court then adjourned for a short break before the start of the case for the penultimate defendant, John Sanderson. Will report that tomorrow.

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