It was torment to see my son suffer, says Devizes Mum

This Is Wiltshire: Simon Tovey was kicked and punched by staff Simon Tovey was kicked and punched by staff

The mother of Simon Tovey, one of the victims in the Winterbourne View abuse scandal, has spoken of her shock at finding out what her son had inflicted on him.

Simon, 37, who has a mental age of four, was depicted on BBC 1’s Panorama being kicked, punched, slapped and mentally tormented by staff.

For most of the 15 years before he was transferred to Winterbourne View, Bristol, in January 2010, Simon had lived at one of the care homes run by the Cornerstones organisation, where he was happy and content.

Simon’s mother, Ann, who lives in the Devizes area, said: “He had begun to exhibit challenging behaviour and this had increased in frequency. The home had applied for additional resources but social services moved Simon to The Lanterns in Swindon, where his behaviour deteriorated further.”

Simon was sent to Postern House in Marlborough and, while there, he was sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

Mrs Tovey said: “We fought very hard to stop him being shipped off to Bristol but we were overruled by his psychiatrist, Dr Lopez.”

Relatives would visit Simon at Winterbourne View, though they were never allowed on the ward where he stayed – for health and safety reasons, they were told.

His mother said: “Simon used to say that people had been having a go at him but he was a bit vague and we dismissed it.”

It was only when his parents were visited by two of the Panorama team that they learned of the abuse Simon and fellow residents had suffered.

Mrs Tovey said: “They told us Simon had been subjected to quite serious abuse and they had footage and documentary evidence to prove it.”

The family were shown the footage and Mrs Tovey could not believe her eyes.

She said: “I was speechless. The cruelty, the physical abuse and the mental torture were just unbelievable. And what made it worse was the sheer deliberateness of it all. They seemed to have planned what they were going to do.

“It was a torment to watch and see him scream in pain. He was doing his best to appease them and do what they wanted, but it didn’t stop the abuse.”

It took three calls by the family to social services to get him moved but in a day Cornerstones had arranged extra staff cover and they were waiting to welcome him at the gate.

Four staff have been arrested on suspicion of abuse and released on police bail.

Mrs Tovey said: “Justice should now run its course and hopefully they will be imprisoned. That film is out there now and people are rightly outraged at this kind of animalistic behaviour.

“Simon is a lovely chap. I am so proud of him. He’s a fine young man and he deserves better.”

Comments (1)

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12:57pm Wed 15 Jun 11

thelittlemorgan says...

Abuse of people with learning difficulties is rife I am afraid. I know from experience that this group of adults, with the same rights as non disabled adults are voiceless. I was saddened to read this story and hope Simon goes on to be happy and secure in his new home.
Abuse of people with learning difficulties is rife I am afraid. I know from experience that this group of adults, with the same rights as non disabled adults are voiceless. I was saddened to read this story and hope Simon goes on to be happy and secure in his new home. thelittlemorgan

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