No charges for Lake Alice Hospital complaints

  • Breaking
  • 29/03/2010

Police investigating abuse claims by 40 former patients treated in the 1970s at Lake Alice Hospital, near Marton in the Rangitikei, will not be laying any criminal charges against the man at the centre of the allegations, Dr Selwyn Leeks.

Assistant Commissioner Malcolm Burgess said that, despite a lengthy investigation, police had decided there was insufficient evidence on which to mount a prosecution.

Dr Leeks headed the hospital's child and adolescent unit, which closed in the late 1970s, before heading to Australia to continue practising.

He was accused of punishing patients at Lake Alice with electric shocks (ECT) and painful drug injections.

Mr Burgess today said the inquiry included analysing medical records, a search of police and health file systems, and interviewing witnesses and complainants.

Material was also assembled from the Ombudsman's inquiry in 1977 and the Commission of Inquiry from 1977.

The police inquiry was made more difficult by the delay in having these matters investigated, Mr Burgess said.

"These events happened over 30 years ago. Some witnesses have died, others were unable to accurately recall events to the level of detail required, some records and original files that may have assisted the inquiry have been lost or destroyed."

The police inquiry, which was renewed in 2006 following complaints from two additional people, was now at an end and each of the complainants had been advised of the outcome of the inquiry, Mr Burgess said.

In 2001, the Government apologised and paid compensation to a group of former patients of Dr Leeks' unit.

It later extended this to a second group, bringing to $10.7 million the total paid to 183 people.

A special forum heard accounts of ill-treatment suffered by patients between 1940 and 1992.

Its report said 493 people came to the forum, most of them former patients with tales of the neglect and abuse they suffered, either at the hands of other patients or staff members.

The forum was set up after several former patients went public with accounts of their miserable lives in the hospitals.

The forum's report did not identify any of the former patients and did not publish individual accounts of life in any of the hospitals, but it did present the common themes it said had emerged.

These included:

* many had been afraid of other patients or staff, and had suffered or witnessed physical or sexual abuse;

* they said staff had been callous, threatening or abusive, and they were often told they would never recover, never get a job or have children;

* most felt they had little choice about the treatment they received, and said they were cajoled or bullied into agreeing to have electric shock treatment; and

* those who were in the hospitals as children or adolescents described their desolate lives. Many said they had not known why they were there.



source: newshub archive