Safety Breaches Admitted Over Care Home Death

A council pleaded guilty today to health and safety charges over the death of a quadriplegic cerebral palsy sufferer in a care home.

Steven Adam Morris, 23, who was known as Adam, suffered brain damage after he became trapped between a headboard and bed rail at the Clwyd Wen respite home in Miskin, South Wales, an inquest previously heard.

He stopped breathing after the incident on the morning of April 27, 2003, and his heart stopped due to asphyxiation.

Mr Morris, of Beddau, near Pontypridd, South Wales, died five days later in intensive care at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Llantrisant, South Wales.

A verdict of accidental death, contributed to by neglect, was returned by a jury at an inquest in Pontypridd in October last year.

No-one from Rhondda Cynon Taff (RCT) Council was at Cardiff Crown Court for today’s plea and case management hearing.

Mona Bayoumi, defending, entered guilty pleas on their behalf to three charges brought under the Health and Safety at Work Act, between April 25 and 27, 2003.

The council admitted failing to ensure the safety of Mr Morris by use of bed rails at the home, failing to make sure the bed rails were maintained in effective working order and good repair, and failing to ensure staff at the home were properly trained in fitting, maintaining and using the bed rails.

The court heard that staff had not received information on how to use them, or to recognise the risks of using inappropriate bed rails, or ones that had been adapted.

The council will be sentenced at a later date.

Speaking outside court, Mr Morris’s 58-year-old father Paul Morris said: “It’s nice to hear the council accept responsibility finally.

“It would be nice for someone from the council to come up to us and actually say they’re sorry for what’s happened.

“Having heard the guilty plea means a lot to us.”

He said the council could have admitted the charges earlier, and that failing to do so “seemed to drag it out”.

He said the family had to fight to get an inquest, and added: “We wouldn’t like to go through it all again.”

His wife Meryl said it was “disrespectful” that no representatives of the council had come to court today.

She added: “I just feel relief that it doesn’t have to go to trial, and that it ends here. We’re relieved that this is the final stage now.”

Mr Morris died during a two-night stay at the care home, the inquest into his death had heard.

A cerebral palsy expert told the hearing that Mr Morris would have been “very distressed” after getting his head trapped.

Clwyd Wen manager Deborah Waters had carried out alterations to an unadapted bed before Mr Morris arrived at the care home in April 2003, the jury at the inquest heard, as a bed specially adapted for him was being used by another resident.

Care home worker Rachel Close, Ms Waters’ sister, was charged with manslaughter and wilful neglect but the charges were dropped before the matter came to trial.

A jury at Cardiff Crown Court cleared Ms Waters of wilful neglect in 2005.

A Rhondda Cynon Taff Council spokesman said: “It would not be appropriate for us to comment until the case is completed.”