There are few stories as evil and depraved as that of Thomas Rawnsley’s final years.
Or, that gives such insight into the cruelty and greed with which we now treat our most vulnerable.
The plan for Thomas was simple.
He was destined to disappear into a life of secret ‘care’.
To become a reliable income for venture capital profit.
Managers, professionals, charities, lawyers, courts, and experts fed into this plan.
Itinerant, insecure, minimum wage carers were readily available.
Developers and builders more than happy to build on cheap land.
And the state PR was honed and laudable.
All like Thomas had a right to their’ independence’, a home of their own in their community with hospitals catered to their needs.
At just 17 Thomas tasted his independence, as with the help of two guards and leg braces, he was driven to his brand new house in the back of a van.
Under a deprivation of liberty order from the Court of Protection.
Thomas was 4ft 10 inches, autistic, Downs , frightened, and alone.
All his life he had lived happily with his Mum, Dad and sisters.
As a teenager with autism and Downs Syndrome he had had some behavioural issues.
He had been observed by social workers to have pulled curtains down and was medicated with risperidol
Thomas should have been at school but this was no longer funded.
He had recently been prescribed fluoxetine, which made him fly into hypnotic rages.
Reducing Thomas to tears as he realised what he’d done.
Paula, his Mum , gave up her job, to care for him.
But the plan was set in stone.
Norcott Lodge was built, empty and waiting,
Homeleigh Care Ltd needed their £3,500 per week.
Thomas’ Mum, Dad and sisters were replaced by a sea of itinerant shift workers.
A large 54 year old, experienced worker, Terence Thompson, appeared to be spending a lot of time with Thomas, despite not being one of his main carers.
Thomas had never attacked anyone, and was on Risperidol
Over the first six months of Thomas’ ‘independence’, he was homesick, and zombified.
His Mum, raised concerns with managers, when Thomas appeared frightened, and had unexplained injuries, but was ignored.
Eventually Paula was telephoned by Homeleigh’s head office.
Two staff had been suspended, as workers had reported their abuse of Thomas, after a particularly horrendous two hour shift.
Thomas had been locked in his room, kicked, pinned down, and his fingers bent back,
Terrence Thompson had threatened,
’ Let’s see how many fingers I can break this time’,
He had not succeeded, as Thomas was double jointed.
It appeared, this may have been going on, for at least two months.
Thompson received a suspended jail sentence, and 200 hours community service
Thompson was considered an excellent carer, who had been passionate about his work after transferring to care from a factory job
Recorder Mark Gargan said society had to have respect for those who care for disadvantaged young adults.
“It is particularly so in the case of a young adult whose behaviour is testing due to behavioural difficulties and who can become violent and require restraint but that restraint must be provided within the law.”
What did Thompson’s bullying, threats and assault have to do with restraint?
Others paid to protect Thomas, were similarly discriminatory.
Dr Wendy Uttley of Bradford’s Down Syndrome Training and Support Group said, as might be expected, in view of her role,
‘More training is needed in the care of people with Downs Syndrome, there’s a stigma around them but they are the same as any other human being and with that they deserve the same respect.’
Omitting to comment on, the fact, that Thomas treatment was on going, it had been an unjustified attack, by a very experienced care worker, and that Thomas had been promised independence, and was not even given safety.
The Bradford District Support Group commented,
‘Autistic people can desensitise themselves which makes any abuse against them even more horrific. They could be kicked and just think it’s just routine’
Suggesting the autistic, were somehow less sentient, despite evidence, they are in fact more sensitive, and, would think such treatment normal, and that was the main concern.
The psychological effect, of such horrendous, prolonged bullying, physical assaults, and Thomas’ constant fear, whilst trapped in a small bungalow, would be bad enough for a normal person, but for a young autistic with Downs, it must have been unimaginable, and was to prove devastating on Thomas.
And, at just 18, isolated, and, at the mercy of our ‘care’ machine, Thomas’s torture had only just begun, two years later, he would be dead.