The bizarre story of the sadistic nurse known as the Yorkshire Whipper

The case that was to become the most disturbing example of British healthcare abuse in recent times started to unravel at 5.47 am on a Tuesday morning in April 2018. Leonard Parkin, an 85-year-old World War II veteran, was awake with the central heating on, faintly expectant of a visit from somebody, although unsure who. His care in the community appointment was scheduled for fifteen minutes, just enough time for his helper to change the sheets, microwave a meal and administer his medicine. Mr Parkin had Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

“Who are you?” Mr Parkin, opening the front door, asked of Mark, his carer for two months. “What are you doing here? Get out of my house.”

The gangly Mark Duke, 27, was moustachioed and dressed in a black rubber mackintosh. Although said by his few friends to be a “dead ringer” for the pop idol Freddie Mercury, his silhouette in the lamplight of the front porch resembled a figure from a nightmare.

Rising at 4am to stalk the sleepy streets of South Yorkshire before even the milkman had done his rounds, Duke had driven across the foggy dales from his home in Ashton-under-Lyne. In the full-length mack and knee-high goth boots, he stood out from the other roster of care workers sent to care for the borough’s old and sick residents. Most were migrants from more conservative cultures and young people on minimum wage who were sent into care work as a last resort, after their unemployment benefits were removed by the Jobcentre.

“It was nice to see somebody take pride in their appearance,” said Ethel Maybridge, 87. “Like he was making an effort for us, something you don’t get with the Muslims and the others they send round.”

The Maybridge sisters recall fondly how Mark would sing the White Cliffs of Dover while he bathed them, and it would bring back pleasant memories.

“Mark scrubbed my back and scratched me in those places I can’t reach any more,” sighed Ethel’s sister Dolly, 82.

A music fan, Duke frequently performed at Sheffield and Manchester’s gay clubs and karaoke nights. His repertoire included tunes by pop divas Cilla Black, Myleene Klass, Coleen Nolan and Jane McDonald. He would sing with his patients, too – often before, but frequently as he transgressed all professional standards for his own sadistic pleasure.

It was not unusual for Mark Duke to tie his patients up, especially those with Parkinson’s disease – a controversial technique approved by bosses in the South Yorkshire Primary Care centre to enable staff to feed patients more quickly, without spilling food. Duke, however, was the only member of staff who brought his own restraints. Rather than medical equipment, however, his were intended for kinky sex games.

On the cold Tuesday morning, the tall cross-dresser tied Mr Parkin to his armchair and cooked him his usual breakfast of microwaved mashed potatoes. Little did Mr Parkin know that Duke had added a special ingredient to that day’s meal – a crushed-up Viagra tablet, causing the feeble geriatric uncontrollable urges that would last twelve hours. Breakfast spooned into his mouth, Duke tickled and teased Mr Parkin’s genitals with a feather, giving the grandfather of seven recollections of his wedding night in 1962. Duke switched the television on and made the poor old man watch a tape of hardcore pornography on repeat, unable to touch or relieve himself. With Mr Parkin gagging and slobbering, Duke left exactly fifteen minutes after his arrival, got in his car and drove to visit his next patient, a mile and a half away in Loxley.

Arthur Seaton did not get off so lightly. At 6.28 am, he opened the door to Mark Duke, his carer of three months, and was led by the hand up the stairs to the bathroom. In his distinguished career as a prison officer, the retired 74-year-old prided himself on guarding the most dangerous inmates. Up until a couple of years ago, he could be seen around Hillsborough on his mobility scooter, shaking his fist in defiance at crime. Barely able to talk or stand up for too long nowadays, the lonely resident spent most of his days watching daytime television and staring out of his window.

Duke was only supposed to spend ten minutes with the fiercely independent Mr Seaton, cleaning him up after using the toilet and reading him the Lord’s Prayer – a special privilege that came as part of his private health plan. Once Mr Seaton was on the toilet, however, Duke pulled open his mackintosh and showed the horrified pensioner the bulge in his rubber underpants. He clutched the back of Mr Seaton’s head as he tucked his own manhood between his legs. Duke then made Mr Seaton lick his “mangina.” As he degraded and assaulted him, Mark Duke sang the theme tune to the Cilla Black gameshow, Surprise, Surprise:

The more the world is changing The more it stays the same. Life is full of small surprises It’s a never ending game.”

As he was leaving, Duke, who earned seven-fifty an hour as an employee of South Yorkshire Primary Care, called out: “You’re a lucky devil, Seaton. Some folk would pay hundreds of pounds for that.”

It was nearly lunchtime, but the only hunger Mark Duke felt as he approached the home of Sidney Wilson was for the power and control he lacked in his own life. Mr Wilson was a 91-year-old retired schoolteacher, partially blind with acute dementia, arthritis, high blood pressure, gout, diabetes and Alzheimer’s. His extensive range of care needs meant that his visits were scheduled for thirty minutes, the longest of any South Yorkshire resident. Little did he know that it gave the ruthlessly efficient master of kink more time for his atrocity exhibition.

“My dad fought against the Germans, but even Hitler would have treated him more humanely than his so-called carer,” his sister Maxine Wilson, 65, said.

Wilson opened the door sheepishly at 11.50am. Duke grabbed him by the testicles and squeezed them so hard the old man’s false teeth fell out. The attacker carried Mr Wilson upstairs and tied him to the bed using his black leather belts. He removed his clothes and spread-eagled him. Instead of food or medicine, Duke produced a karaoke microphone from his bag and pranced around Mr Wilson’s bedroom singing, goose-stepping, saluting and flashing – a sight that alarmed Mr Wilson’s neighbours.

When he had finished his rendition of the Atomic Kitten song, Whole Again, he greased his finger and inserted it into Mr Wilson’s hole. Stimulation of his prostate gland still produced involuntary sexual arousal. Duke used a rubber band to stop the blood draining from Mr Wilson’s penis during the next part of his programme, which often included a televisual element.

Duke switched Mr Wilson’s telly on at 12.15pm. The day’s edition of the popular chat show Loose Women was just beginning. Host Kay Burley was having a natter with regular panellist Coleen Nolan about the merits of waxing one’s inner thighs.

Mr Wilson only ever watched cricket, westerns and Dad’s Army. The sight and sound of women talking about matters that did not concern him caused him untold distress. Tied and gagged on the bed, he writhed in agony as Duke massaged his penis with a gloved, lubricated hand. The show’s first segment came to an end with cruise-ship diva Jane McDonald expressing her preference for tall men.

“You’re in luck,” Kay Burley said. “Joining us after the break will be none other than the tall, dark and handsome Vernon Kay.”

Mr Wilson gasped and sighed, hoping for the torture to end. Duke looked at his watch and saw that his 30 minutes were almost up. He pulled Mr Wilson’s underwear back up, sprayed air freshener into the atmosphere and gave his patient one final humiliation – a slap with a tassled whip. “I’ll finish you off tomorrow,” he said. “But only if you’re a good lad.”

Mark Duke was about to singsong his way to his next patient two miles away, but his fantasy was cut short. Six uniformed members of South Yorkshire police were blocking the driveway. He was arrested and charged with sexual assault and rape – charges he enthusiastically admits.

Not all South Yorkshire residents are relieved that the menace known as the Yorkshire Whipper has been apprehended. “It’s a crying shame,” Ethel Maybridge said, furious at losing her appointments with Mark. “Never mind what the families say. These men fought in a war,” said Doris. “In our day, a man would be ashamed to admit he had been beaten up and not given as good as he got.”

Thomas Jones is a 58-year-old former computer programmer living in a remote part of the Yorkshire dales. “As a result, he was beaten and abused by men in his native Llandudno. “I absolutely loved it,” he smirked, showing off a scar beneath his mouth where he was hit with a broken bottle.

Since moving to England for work, Jones had to be more proactive to get his kicks – quite literally. He frequently cruised websites such as Gumtree looking for “doms,” experts in inflicting pain, to come over to his remote cottage and punish him. Often his attempts at getting a good kicking were met with obliging acts of violence from Yorkshire’s hardmen. They hospitalised him over a hundred times, knocking out most of his teeth, breaking both arms, both legs, several ribs and puncturing both lungs.

In 2007, Jones was consigned to a wheelchair, retired from work and put on permanent incapacity benefit. His masochism wouldn’t allow him to ask for any kind of help, however. For the masochist, the symptoms of his beatings still gave him twinges of pleasure.

“It was tough,” he said, “having no income, unable to afford to pay for men to come out to where I live and give me a good hiding. The cab fare alone would set me back a week’s sick money, so for a long time all I had were memories, the pangs I still felt from long ago.”

In 2015 the BBC aired a landmark documentary that showed staff abusing patients in Winterbourne View care home near Bristol. Low-income workers were seen slapping, pinching, biting and taunting the helpless patients, many of whom had learning difficulties. Like millions of others, Thomas Jones was watching. But unlike other right-thinking viewers, Jones’ reaction to the hidden-camera footage was not outrage or pity, but envy – for the victims.

Jones excitedly called local health authorities. “I told them my health was worsening, and I would like to accept the residential care that was offered to me before.” Once his request was granted, he couldn’t wait for his first appointment, hoping that the culture of cruelty he had seen depicted on television was not an isolated case, but was prevalent throughout the entire system.

“In three years, I’ve had over a dozen different helpers,” he said. “They’re often cheerful, often quite calm, nearly always respectful.”

Getting gradually more frustrated, he tried some of his old tricks. “I would refuse to co-operate, test their patience, try to get under their skin. I even racially abused one Pakistani lad. But the young men and women have behaved in a despicably professional manner throughout.”

After two years of “vanilla” home care, Thomas Jones was considering cancelling his appointments. “I had come to the end of my tether. I was ready to conclude that there were simply not enough sadists working in the health sector who could cater to my needs.”

In May 2017, Mark Duke joined South Yorkshire Primary Care team as a residential support worker after a three-year stint working in Ginsters abattoir outside Rotherham. Thomas Jones was one of the first patients he was assigned. “I remember Mark very well,” Jones said. “The first thing he asked me was whether I would like to be tied up during his visits.

“When I said yes, I would love it, he grinned at me and said, ‘oh no, Mr Jones, you don’t have Parkinson’s disease. The regulations won’t allow it.’”

Jones suspected that Duke may have a sadistic side to his personality due to his dark sense of personal style. A taste for perversion revealed itself in his slightly camp, but ultimately sinister behaviour. “He liked to twirl my intravenous drip like a whip,” Jones said. “And that would drive me absolutely crazy with desire. But that’s as far as it went,” he lamented. “The bastard.”

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