Pensioner died after falling down cellar stairs at care home near Oswestry
A wheelchair-bound pensioner died after falling down steps to a cellar at a care home, a court heard.
Michael Ibbetson, aged 83, suffered a fatal head injury when he fell down the brick built flight of stairs at The Court nursing and residential home in West Felton, Shrewsbury Crown Court heard yesterday.
Akari Care, which ran the care home, is being prosecuted by the Health & Safety Executive – which said the door to the cellar did not always lock properly.
The company denies two allegations of breaching health and safety regulations and is standing trial at the crown court.
Opening the case, prosecutor James Puzey said Mr Ibbetson, a former quarry worker, had been at the care home since 2013.
Mr Puzey said the pensioner had his right leg below his knee amputated and used a wheelchair, but was able to get around by himself well.
The court was told that on the day of the accident – February 15, 2015 – Mr Ibbetson was due to return to his room to have his dressing changed and was seen heading towards the lift, next to the cellar door.
Mr Puzey said at 7pm staff realised he was not in his room and there was a search of the building and grounds to find him.
He said a nurse decided to check the cellar and entered a code on a keypad to open the door.
Mr Puzey said: "She saw Mr Ibbetson at the foot of the stairs with the wheelchair on top of him."
Unsuccessful attempts were made to resuscitate him and Mr Ibbetson was found to have fractured his skull.
The court heard that the cook had gone into the cellar in the morning but said the door had closed and locked behind her.
The cellar was used by staff for access to a chest freezer and maintenance workshop.
Mr Puzey said: "The cellar door had a keypad. The keypad combination wasn't known to the residents.
"The door was fitted with a self-closing mechanism, but that was the theory.
"The only reasonable explanation is the door was not securely locked when he came to it."
The court heard that a HSE investigator later noted that the cellar door did not always shut properly when someone let it go from a short distance away.
Changes were brought in following the accident, the jury heard.
A new door and Yale lock were fitted, the freezer was removed from the cellar and a new sign was put up warning that the door should be locked at all times.
The door was also hung so it opened outwards rather than inwards.
Giving evidence, care home manager Anna Prichard told the jury Mr Ibbetson could be forgetful at times but there was not a lot of evidence of memory loss.
Mr Puzey said at the time Akari Care had 35 residential homes across the country with 2,000 employees.
The trial continues.
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