On this week’s episode of the HJ Talks About Abuse podcast, the abuse team discuss the conviction of morgue rapist, David Fuller, and how the NHS will most likely have to foot the cost of his sickening actions.
We all have that one thing in common: one day we are going to die, and when we do, if we can bring ourselves to think about it, would like to think our remains shall be treated with dignity and respect.
The conviction of hospital electrician David Fuller, who admitted to performing sexual acts on corpses in morgues, raises questions about the safe keeping of bodies and human remains. It would be assumed, understandably, that this would be a key concern for the NHS yet Fuller, who had a criminal record (burglary), nevertheless, enjoyed unrestricted access to the hospitals where he worked. His seemingly unchecked ability to denigrate the deceased demonstrates a collective lack of respect by the NHS and, especially so, given it has previously been told to improve safeguarding.
The Lampard report published in 2015 in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal recommended that:
All NHS hospital trusts should undertake DBS checks (including, where applicable, enhanced DBS and barring list checks) on their staff and volunteers every three years. The implementation of this recommendation should be supported by NHS Employers.
The Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said the NHS had written to all trusts asking for mortuary access and post-mortem activities to be reviewed in the wake of Fuller, but the question to be asked is why was he allowed access to hospital facilities given his criminal record?
A DBS check no doubt revealed, or would have revealed Fullers’ offending history, and it should have followed that he was not to be employed on NHS hospital premises, or if he was in restricted and managed circumstances.
Tragically Fuller was allowed to offend under the radar, and the families of the deceased now live with the knowledge of the sexual abuse. The NHS may have to pay a price too because of the failure to detect and stop him when it clearly had opportunities to do so.
The families affected, arguably, have a case to bring against the NHS Trusts concerned under Articles 3 and 8 of the ECHR: the prohibition of degrading treatment; and the right to family life. Following the decision in: Akpınar and Altun v Turkey close family members who can demonstrate that they have suffered some form of psychiatric injury attributable to the discovery that their loved one was sexually abused, arguably, have a case and this would be on the basis that either or both articles had been breached.
The breach of both articles arises from the fact that the NHS Trusts would be liable for the actions of its employee, who had afforded to him the opportunity to violate the deceased, either by failing to undertake a DBS check, or having done so paid no regard to the risk that his past revealed. To sexually abuse a dead person is degrading, and in turn arguably equally so for close family members whose right to grieve has been compounded by the discovery of Fuller’ depravity.