Roll Call of Vulnerable Victims: so we don’t forget



This is a less usual post because it records the deaths of people with learning disabilities from COVID-19, and because these exceed in percentage the numbers of deaths in the non learning disabled population many will have been ‘excess’.

LeDeR received 623 reports of deaths, which were definitely or possibly COVID-19 related, among people with learning disabilities between the beginning of February and 5 June. This suggests an estimated national total of 956 deaths, after accounting for under-reporting.

Based on the deaths reported to LeDeR, the COVID-19 death rate for people with learning disabilities was 240 deaths per 100,000 adults with learning disabilities. This is 2.3 times the rate in the general population for the same period. However, after adjusting for under-reporting the estimated rate was 369 per 100,000 adults, which is 3.6 times the rate in the general population.

CPNS, which only records deaths that happen in hospital, recorded 490 deaths of adults with learning disabilities with COVID-19 up to 5 June. This is a rate of 192 deaths per 100,000 adults with learning disabilities, which is 3.1 times the rate for adults without learning disabilities. This is likely to be an underestimate as a quarter of deaths reported in CPNS do not say whether or not the deceased had learning disabilities.

Most deaths (82%) of people with learning disabilities from COVID-19 happened in hospital. This was higher than the proportion of all deaths in previous years (60%) and higher than the proportion of COVID-19 deaths in the general population (63%).

During the peak 3 weeks of the pandemic, the number of deaths from all causes for people with learning disabilities were 3 times the average for the corresponding period in the 2 previous years. For the general population, deaths were twice as high during the same 3-week period, than the 2 years before.

Of the deaths recorded in the CPNS up to 5 June, 1.8% were of people with learning disabilities. GPs in England recognise only 0.57% of adults registered with them as having learning disabilities. So, adults with learning disabilities were over-represented by at least 3.1 times among the numbers of people dying. The disparity was much larger in younger age groups.


Margaret Fleming has been missing since 1999 and, astonishingly, no one noticed. Her carers have just been found guilty of her murder despite her body still not being found.

fleming This is from the Scottish Daily Record.



  This is Guiseppe (Joe) Ulleri and he’s included here because his death was avoidable and unlawful. March 2019.

A man with Down’s syndrome died in hospital days after his family had raised concerns about the supposed lack of nutrition he was being given, an inquest has heard. Giuseppe Ulleri, 61, was admitted to Manchester Royal Infirmary following a fall. His family believe he went for 10 days without being fed while in the care of the hospital. Mr Ulleri died from pneumonia after struggling to ingest food through a tube, jurors were told.

Read more at:


Lee Irving
Lee Irving. Photo credit, The Guardian 10/6/15

Lee was murdered in June 2015. He was 24 years old.

Dean Mayley _77219723_77219719

 Dean Mayley; 24 years old and stabbed to death in a mugging in February 2014.

 Peter Lewis; a 68 year old stabbed to death outside his own flat in April 2012. Picture from BBC News South East Wales.

Gemma Hayter
picture from Mail Online

Gemma Hayter; murdered August 2010 after being made to drink her own urine.

Samantha Backler: picture from St Albans Review

Samantha Backler: died of starvation in 2010. Samantha doesn’t quite fit this page but her death was avoidable and tragic and mediated by perceived helplessness among service providers.


David-Askew, a man with learning disabilities
David Askew

David Askew Taunted and victimised for decades. Died in his garden after youths verbally abused him.

face of Michael Gilbert
Michael Gilbert

 Michael Gilbert Tortured, abused, and murdered by the family that took him in.

Francesca Hardwick

 Francesca Hardwick Died with her mother in a blazing car in 2007 after years of abuse by local bullies.  Picture from the Mail on Line.

No names in this report from The Independent but each account is of a vulnerable person being abused and terrified by people who should know better. The headline offenders are soldiers.

Brendan Mason

Brendan Mason, a man with ‘multiple learning disabilities’ was killed by men he thought were his friends: “Joshua Hack, 21, and Keith Lowe, 22, lured ‘easily led’ Brendan Mason to a park, making him believe they wanted to spend time with him. But when they arrived, they hung him from a tree, taking turns hitting him while the other held him for several hours, laughing and taunting him in the early hours of July 5 last year [2015].”

Report and photo via Metro

“Joanna Bailey, 36, and Nicholas Briant, 33, both of London; and Ben King, 32, from Norfolk, between April 2018 and July 2020.” This is from the BBC website on the 9th September, 2021. Their deaths were attributed to:

  • “Excessive” use of restraint and seclusion by unqualified staff
  • Concerns over “unsafe grouping” of patients
  • Overmedication of patients
  • High levels of inactivity and days of “abject boredom”
  • Relatives described “indifferent and harmful hospital practices” and said their questions and “distress” were ignored.

Cawston Park hospiutal, where they should have been safe, has now closed and the company running it has gone into liquidation. The details are here.

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