Bupa Care Homes wins appeal over £3M fine for legionnaires’ disease death

Bupa Care Homes has won an appeal against a £3 million fine imposed over the death of an 86-year-old man in Essex from Legionnaires’ disease.

Kenneth Ibbetson died after contracting the disease while living at the Hutton Village Nursing Home in Brentwood (pictured) in March 2015, less than three months after he moved there.

A judge at Ipswich Crown Court concluded that the most likely cause of his infection was the failure to flush and disinfect pipes at the home following refurbishment work shortly before Mr Ibbotson became a resident.

Bupa Care Homes admitted breaching health and safety rules and was handed the hefty fine, plus an order to pay legal costs of more than £150,000, in June 2018.

But the fine was slashed to £1.5 million in a ruling at the Court of Appeal on Friday.

Mr Justice Julian Knowles, sitting with two other leading judges, said the Crown Court judge had wrongly taken the much larger profits of Bupa Care Homes’ parent company into consideration when setting the fine.

He added: “The defendant in this case was Bupa Care Homes and the offence in question arose out of its breaches of duty.

“It did not delegate these to its parent. It alone bore criminal liability.”

The judge said nothing in the ruling was “intended to minimise the loss” that Mr Ibbotson’s family have suffered.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) brought the prosecution against Bupa Care Homes following Mr Ibbotson’s death.

Speaking at the time of the original fine, HSE principal inspector Vicky Fletcher said: “It is heart-breaking to think Kenneth contracted Legionnaires’ a matter of weeks after moving into the Hutton Village care home.

“His family have been left devastated by his sudden death.”

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Google Maps.