Police investigating deaths of 13 residents at 9 care homes interview third woman for possible manslaughter

Police investigating the deaths of 13 residents at nine different care homes have spoken to a third woman – about possible manslaughter.

A total of nine homes – all run by Sussex Health Care – are being investigated by police following serious concerns over the safety of patients.

Police say a 57-year-old woman attended a voluntary interview under caution for gross negligence manslaughter on Friday.

All the homes currently under investigation are run by the same firm.

Last November a woman was arrested on suspicion of neglect and earlier this month a 39 year-old woman was also quizzed by cops over the gross negligence manslaughter investigation.

The investigation launched in August last year initially related to 12 deaths and 43 alleged instances of neglect.

Earlier this month Sussex Police revealed a 13th death occurred in October last year that would also be part of the investigation.

The deaths occurred at nine homes in Sussex and Kent run by the company, which has 20 homes, providing beds for 580, between April 2015 and June 2017.

A spokesman for Sussex Health Care said: “We continue to cooperate fully with the police in their investigation.

“It would not be appropriate for us to comment further at this stage.”

Valerie Tilley, 79, who had Alzheimer’s, was one of the 12 whose deaths are being investigated.

She was at Longfield Manor care home in Billingshurst, West Sussex, when she suffered two accidents within a week and died shortly afterwards at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton on November 7 last year.

Gary Lewis, 65, and Matthew Bates, 33 – neither of whom can walk or talk – were each found to have suffered broken legs in separate incidents while they were residents at Beech Lodge care home in Horsham, West Sussex, in 2015.

A spokesman for Sussex Police said: “A 57-year-old woman from West Sussex attended a voluntary interview under caution for gross negligence manslaughter on Friday, April 20, in connection with the investigation into Sussex Healthcare.

“The investigation continues.”

Police say their investigations could go on until 2019 and has 17 officers assigned to the case.

By Ben Gelblum and Chris Dyer

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