Kung Fu Bednarski & The Battle of Rosedale Avenue

Mark Bednarski was once employed by York Social Services (YSS). He took up his post there on leaving college in the autumn of 2008 and soon fitted into the “culture” of YSS.

One of his first clients was Paul Hofschröer, aged 87, a seriously ill old man who had recently been discharged from a long stay in hospital. Paul was partly bed-ridden and incontinent. His wife Barbara, then aged 79, was disabled and unable to look after him properly, so their second-born, son Peter, gave up his job and home to care for them.

Shortly before Bednarski had joined YSS, Paul’s carer had reported the serious abuse Paul and Barbara were being subjected to by their first born Robert Hofschröer (employed by YSS), his wife Shirley and their two adult children Diane and Martin. Robert and his family had defrauded their elderly parents of their house and tried to seize control of their life savings, which Peter had been able to stop by obtaining Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) from the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG).

Paul’s then social worker established there was a case of abuse to investigate, but she left the employ of YSS before the investigation was undertaken. One of Bednarski’s first tasks was to see it went ahead. He did not, but he never told Paul, Barbara or their carer that his line manager Sophie Tweed had decided to drop the investigation. Later attempts to get the City of York Council (CYC) to comply with the Freedom of Information Act and give their carer sight of this file has been unlawfully blocked. What does CYC have to hide here?

Hoping at this stage to resolve the problem with reason, Peter suggested that YSS organise mediation between the parties. This suggestion too had been accepted by Paul’s then social worker, and Bednarski gave the impression in the following weeks that attempts to do so were being made. He lied. Sophie Tweed, a colleague of Robert’s had already decided not to resolve this problem to the benefit of the two vulnerable people for whom she had a duty of care. Peter only found this out when the Stage 2 investigators published their report nearly a year later.

Both of his parents had continence problems, and getting up the stairs to the toilet in their semi was difficult for them. so Peter applied for suitable accommodation in sheltered housing. Had Paul and Barbara moved into sheltered housing, then their home would have been sold, releasing capital over which Robert and his family would have no control.

On 12 November 2008, Bednarski held a meeting with Robert. Two days later, Bednarski cancelled the application for sheltered housing without informing Paul or Barbara, then falsified the record to cover his actions. Peter later applied for sight of the record of the meeting of 12 November, but CYC failed to comply with the Freedom of Information Act and give Peter sight of this file. What does CYC have to hide here?

The fact that he could no longer get to the toilet in time caused Paul, who already had mental health issues, considerable distress and contributed to his death. Bednarski’s vindictive act here contributed to Paul’s death. He helped a corrupt social worker kill one of his clients, so that his colleague could plunder his victim’s assets.

Only months earlier had Bednarski left college. Presumably committing criminal offences against the vulnerable people for whom he had a duty of care did not conflict with his training as a social worker.

It did not end there. Peter was now blocking Robert and his family’s attempt to seize Paul and Barbara’s life savings, so he had to be removed from caring for his parents and his control over their finances stopped. Bednarski willingly joined in the conspiracy being undertaken by the senior management of YSS and Robert to defraud them of their assets.

On 28 November 2008, Bednarski came around to Paul and Barbara’s house unexpectedly and without an appointment. Peter welcomed him in, expecting to be told the proposed mediation was finally going ahead. Bednarski had still not told him YSS had no intention whatsoever of helping Peter resolve this situation to his parents’ benefit. This would make it unnecessary for them to continue the litigation they were now being forced to undertake.

When he asked to see Paul and Barbara alone, Peter naively agreed. Bednarski, who is over 6 feet tall and has an athletic build, came out of his meeting with Peter’s parents with a grin on his face. Peter asked him what had happened, only to be told that he had persuaded Paul and Barbara to meet with Robert alone. Not only was Robert violently psychotic, any such meeting would prejudice the litigation now in hand. Bednarski’s grin grew. As it was clearly his intention to deliberately place his clients’ lives in danger and stop them from successfully litigating against their abusers, Peter told him to leave their house immediately.

Bednarski refused, so committing and act of trespass. Peter had to insist he leave several times before he reluctantly did. On his way out, he kicked out at the front door, propelling it towards Barbara, an act of assault. When outside, he started continuously ringing the bell, breach the peace. Only when Peter threatened to call the police to have him removed did he go.

That evening, Peter made a formal Stage 1 complaint to Bednarski’s line manager Sophie Tweed. Peter later found out she illegally blocked to investigation. Sophie Tweed, who Peter had always been told was employed by YSS, was later shown to be a temp employed by YSS, who was running a dodgy private care company at the same time. CYC later told Peter they were not aware of this conflict of interests and had no mechanism for checking such matters. Peter had obtained this information on her by simply googling her name, something that CYC’s HR department seems incapable of doing.

Tweed then wrote to Peter accusing him of having assaulted Bednarski, which was clearly a blatant lie.

It was now clear to Peter that his brother was using his influence in YSS to prevent any investigation of the abuse from taking place and that Robert’s colleagues were now doing all they could to discredit Peter. He went to his ward councillors David Horton JP and Tracey Simpson-Laing for help. Their replies were evasive, so Peter contacted then Chief Executive Bill McCarthy. His PA took up the case, promised to take these two social workers off the case and to instigate a Stage 2 complaint.

A few days later, Tweed and Bednarski contacted Peter, asking for unsupervised access to his parents. Peter refused and expressed his concerns to McCarthy that these social workers were still working on his parents case. He never got a reply.

Sight of his mother’s file months later showed that not only were Tweed and Bednarski still on the case, but they were conspiring with senior social workers such as Anne Tidd, Anne Bygrave and Ralph Edwards to help their colleague Robert defraud his parents.

Acting on his managers’ instructions, Bednarski contacted the OPG to make enquiries about Peter’s LPA and how to go about having it cancelled, so Robert could seize control of his parents’ remaining assets.

On 3 January 2009, Paul passed away peaceful at home in the presence of his wife of 60 years and his younger son. The story of the unlawful police raid on their house later that day will be part of another page on this blog.

Now that his father had gone, Peter had time to think about how best to care for his mother. As she too had problems getting to the upstairs toilet, Peter starting making enquiries about how best to adapt his mother’s home. The plan was to convert downstairs into a flat for Barbara with a toilet next to her bedroom. Planning permission was needed and Robert and his children would have to do this. Barbara’s solicitor approached them in this regard shortly after Paul’s death. They agreed to discuss the matter, agreed to go ahead, then dragged the matter out until that summer, before refusing to let a disabled great-grandmother spent her own money adapting her own house to suit her needs.

Days before rejecting Barbara’s request, Jane Roberts of YSS provided Robert with confidential medical information on Barbara to Robert after Barbara had explicitly denied York Social Services permission to do so. This is, of course, a breach of various laws, including the Data Protection Act. What sort of person gives confidential information on the victim to her abuser? A York social worker.

Peter then applied for sight of a copy of this letter, but CYC failed to comply with the Freedom of Information Act and give Peter sight of this file. What does CYC have to hide here?

Peter also made various complaints to the police about the harassment he and his mother were getting from YSS, and in particular from Bednarski. The police refused to act, despite the fact they are obliged by law to investigate all allegations of harassment of a vulnerable person.

Meanwhile, the Stage 2 investigation went ahead. Peter gave information to the investigators, who he was assured were “independent”, and particularly drew their attention to his suspicions that there his brother and YSS had an inappropriate relationship in which they were supporting his abuse of his parents. Although their report found partially in Peter’s favour (the Local Government Ombudsman later reinvestigated the complaint and found all of Peter’s complaints to be justified), the investigators assured him there was no evidence to link Robert inappropriately to YSS. They lied.

Barbara and Peter then had a meeting with McCarthy in which they pointed out that Bednarski had fabricated the assault allegation and asked him to withdraw it. At the same meeting. McCarthy agreed to see to it the abuse would be ended. He did neither nor.

By now, Peter was beginning to get suspicions as to the integrity of the senior management of CYC and applied for a copy of his mother’s file. This confirmed that CYC had been unlawfully assisting his brother to abuse and defraud his parents. Peter then applied for his father’s file. The few pages of it he was given sight of were heavily redacted. Later, Peter applied for sight of his own file. CYC refused, which is an unlawful act.

In the course of this affair, Peter made several applications to the Information Commissioner’s Office for them to enforce the Freedom of Information Act. CYC declined to comply with the Decision Notices issued.

Having been prevented from adapting her own house, Barbara then applied to CYC for sheltered accommodation. CYC waited until they knew Barbara had gone on holiday, then delivered an offer by hand knowing she was not at home to receive it and when she did not respond within the deadline, they again cancelled her application to prevent her house being sold and capital released over which their colleague would have no control.

Peter complaint vehemently to CYC about this. CYC’s Senior Solicitor Glen McClusker then wrote to Peter threatening unspecified legal action because Peter complained about their handling of this case. Peter carried on complaining and no legal action is initiated against Peter by CYC because he had not committed any offence. McClusker committed a criminal offence of harassment, but the police refused to act here either.

One of the Stage 2 investigator’s recommendation in their report published in May 2009 was that the safeguarding investigation into Barbara’s abuse be reopened. YSS prevaricated.

[To be contined]

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