Eight nursing home workers have gone on trial charged with the wilful neglect of a patient, 84, who died within five weeks of being admitted to their care.

Gladys Thomas arrived at the Bryngwyn Mountleigh nursing home in Newbridge, Caerphilly, on 23 September 2005 but was admitted to hospital in October.

Medical staff found Miss Thomas had fractures to her collar bone and rib, Newport Crown Court heard.

Each of the defendants deny the charge. A ninth has pleaded guilty to neglect.

The pensioner, who suffered from schizophrenia and dementia as well as chronic physical problems, died at the Royal Gwent Hospital, Newport on 27 October 2005.

Evan Green, 35, of Fairwater, Cwmbran; John Sunday Ajewole, 53, of Newbridge; Ebeneezer Ajiwe, 48, of Abercarn; Peter John Booth, 35, of Newbridge; Tahir Hayat, 30, of Newport; Angela Johnson, 37, of Crumlin; Shibu Joseph, 32, of Newport; and Debra Richards, 45, of Bedwas are all charged with wilful neglect.

The court heard that John Barry Alder, who was employed as a qualified nurse at the home, has pleaded guilty to neglect on the basis of not administering Miss Thomas the correct medication.

The jury at Newport Crown Court was shown photographs of severe bruising to Miss Thomas' abdomen, lower back, chest and neck, and was told of further bruising to her groin area and buttocks.

Gerard Elias QC, prosecuting, said: "The Crown says this pointed to significant injury which should have alerted the carers and nurses to the fact something was seriously wrong."

Mr Elias said Miss Thomas was previously admitted to the Royal Gwent Hospital on 10 October 2005, and had no significant external injury when she was sent back to the home two days later.

He said it was alleged the neglect had occurred between 12 and 19 October, the day she was re-admitted reportedly suffering from breathing difficulties.

Crawling

"The prosecution cannot allege that any one defendant was directly responsible for the injuries sustained," Mr Elias said.

But he added: "We do allege that those who had responsibility neglected her, allowing her to become injured.

"Once she became injured they failed to observe the injuries and, if they were observed, failed to report or otherwise deal with those injuries and her condition when she desperately needed it."

He said Miss Thomas was unable to communicate verbally, so could give no explanation for the injuries.

He said she required constant care and could only get around by crawling.

A care plan drawn up at the home said staff needed to be aware of her whereabouts at all times and two members of staff were needed to help her walk.

Mr Elias added that the bruising would have been obvious to anyone caring for Miss Thomas.

But he said there was no record at the home of Miss Thomas receiving any injuries, save for a note on 16 October that there was discoloration to the skin on her collar bone.

He added: "If a ligature was attached her arm for the purpose of restraining her to a chair or the bed, no reason for doing that was ever recorded - not that the prosecution say it could ever be justified.

"The notes give the impression there was nothing to worry about and her condition was causing no concern."

Mr Elias told the jury they would hear from a panel of expert witnesses who would say Miss Thomas' injuries showed "either physical abuse or neglect or both".

BBC News