Parents 'feel sick' at son's Winterbourne View 'abuse'

The Rooneys Mr and Mrs Rooney's son is no longer at the unit

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A couple who believe their son was abused at a private hospital in Bristol say they feel "sick" at what happened.

A BBC Panorama programme exposed the abuse of adults with learning disabilities at Winterbourne View.

The family of Terry Rooney, from St Austell, Cornwall, said they believed he was one of those abused.

Terry's father, also called Terry, said his son - who has autism - spoke to him about incidents that had happened after seeing some of the Panorama footage.

Their son is no longer at the hospital.

Patients at the unit, run by a company called Castlebeck, were filmed by an undercover reporter posing as a care worker.

Residents were seen in the footage being punched, slapped, taunted and drenched with water.

Mr and Mrs Rooney said that before the investigation was broadcast, they had suspected something at the unit had been affecting their son's behaviour.

However, they said it was after they watched the footage and questioned their son that he described what happened.

'Pure abuse'

Mr Rooney said: "He told me what they did to him.

"He said they put him in a headlock, chucked him in the showers, stripped him off.

"It was just pure abuse.

"I feel sick. I mean, you trust these people."

Mr Rooney said that whenever they saw their son during his time at the unit, he had been shaking.

He said that "was just not Terry".

Mr Rooney said: "We put it down to medication, but everything clicked into place when we saw the documentary."

The couple said they had now employed a solicitor to look into the case on their behalf.

After the programme was broadcast, Castlebeck apologised and launched an internal investigation.

A number of people have been questioned by police and released on bail following the programme, and the government said it would carry out its own review of what happened.

A serious case review into the alleged abuse at the residential hospital has been set for July.

Three people from Cornwall were at Winterbourne View in the past 14 months, BBC Cornwall learned last week.

The Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trust - the principal provider of mental health and learning disability services to people living in Cornwall - said that it, the county's primary care trust and Cornwall Council were aware of the situation.

It said they were all working closely with all relevant authorities on the issue, but that, because of ongoing investigations, it was unable to comment further.

All three people from Cornwall at the hospital have been moved to alternative accommodation.

After the programme was broadcast, Castlebeck apologised and launched an internal investigation.

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