Elderly man's fatal fall costs home £136,000
The owners of a nursing home have been hit with a fine and court costs totalling almost £136,000 after an elderly resident fell 12ft out of a window and later died.
Reginald Gibbings, 89, was suffering from Alzheimer's when he was placed at Hillcrest House at Looe, south east Cornwall.
He had been living there for just five days when the tragedy happened on July 15, 2008. The father-of-two and former precision engineer died two days later in hospital, from heart failure due to a shattered femur and pelvis.
In July this year at Bodmin Magistrates' Court, husband and wife, Michael and Sharon Cotton, owners of Hillcrest House, pleaded guilty to breaching Health and Safety rules.
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On Friday, Truro Crown Court heard Mr Gibbings tumbled from a window fitted with a restrictor which allowed it to open up to four inches.
However, because the central screw on the device was not screwed down tightly he was able to open it fully and fell out.
Yesterday in a case brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Judge Philip Wassall imposed a fine of £40,000 with £95,963 costs. He also told Hillcrest House Limited to pay for Mr Gibbings' funeral.
Judge Wassall said although the company had an "exemplary" record looking after residents it failed to carry out an effective risk assessment on how the restrictor was being used. He said: "The defendant fell short of a high standard – but not far short."
Speaking after the case Mr Gibbins son Douglas, who lives near Liskeard, said the family had been left "angry, distraught and dismayed" by the "wholly avoidable" death.
Sarah Baldwin-Jones, HSE inspector, said: "Homes should consider the robustness of their restrictors."