Care home receives massive £250,000 fine over sandwich death

First published in Where I Live by

A PROFIT-HUNGRY care home has been fined a massive £250,000 after a patient tragically choked to death on a sandwich.

Judge Peter Ader said Robinia Care Group Limited, which ran The Chine care home in Winchmore Hill, put “profit before safety'' in the case of the death of 26-year-old Jesse Moores.

The private home had left Mr Moores under the care of two agency workers and was ordered to pay the fine, called "substantial" for its kind by the Health and Safety Executive, by Wood Green Crown Court yesterday.

Mr Moores was autistic, hyperactive, suffered from Tourette's Syndrome and had a history of choking because he would regularly put objects in his mouth.

He was found lying on the floor of his room with a piece of sandwich the size of a golf ball stuck in his throat in November 2005.

Robinia care group, which runs 90 care homes across the country, pleaded guilty to three counts of failing to meet its health and safety obligations.

Care Home manager Patience Etchu-Abangma, 53, of Enfield, north London, was fined £1,200 after earlier being found to have breached her health and safety duty.

She had not been on duty on the day Mr Moores died and had gone to work a second job, in breach of her terms of employment at the home, at a school in Walthamstow.

After being informed of the accident by one of the agency workers, Etchu-Abangma delayed calling the emergency services by 15 minutes to get home from the school before the ambulance arrived, the judge said.

He said Etchu-Abangma then told an ambulance operator that someone was performing CPR on Mr Moores which was a “blatant lie”.

Judge Ader told Etchu-Abangma: ``You bear a very heavy responsibility in relation to Jesse Moores.''

The home's management had complained about a lack of staff, as had relatives, but this information had not been passed on to the company’s bosses.

``A case of profit before safety is made out,'' the judge said.

The court also heard that Glen von Malachowski, deputy chief executive of Robinia at the time of the death, told the investigating police that: ``S*** happens in our business.''

He later said he regretted using the phrase.

Kit Doleman, Robinia’s chief executive said: ``We will be working with Enfield Council in their review of the events at the Chine and we will ensure that we do this in an open and transparent manner.”

Mr Moores' father, Bob, said: ``I can't tell you how affronted I was to hear that remark. His comment was unprofessional, completely uncalled for and crass.

``For someone in his position to make a comment like that was outrageous.''

Mr Moores, 61, an antique dealer from Godalming, Surrey, said he was ``very happy'' with the sentences.

`It's probably a record fine for a care home group, and it all means that Patience is unlikely to work in the care industry again, reassures me.”

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