THE manager of a care home where a 90-year-old resident plunged to her death told an ambulance worker the window locks in the pensioner’s room had been removed during a refurbishment, a court heard.
Barbara Jacques, manager of Parkview Residential Home, in Seaton Carew, allegedly made the comment to ambulance worker Michael Higham when he tended to Norah Elliott as she lay severely injured from the fall.
When Mr Higham asked whether the window to Mrs Elliott’s room was fitted with locks Mrs Jacques allegedly said it had been but they were removed during a refurbishment but had not been replaced.
Parkview’s owner Matt Matharu, 50, is standing trial at Teesside Crown Court over health and safety breaches which he denies.
Mr Higham, an emergency support worker with the North East Ambulance Service, was on duty on October 22, 2012, when he was called to the care home in Station Lane.
Giving evidence yesterday, he told the jury: “As I was preparing the spinal board I said to Barbara how has she (Mrs Elliott) managed to fall from the window, wasn’t there any locks?
“Her reply was that there was but they had been taken off when the room had been refurbished and not been replaced.”
When asked by barrister James Kemp, prosecuting on behalf of Hartlepool Borough Council, how sure Mr Higham was about the comment, he replied: “One hundred per cent.”
Chris Morrison, defending, suggested: “No such conversation took place.”
Mr Higham said: “I’m looking at you now and tell you there did.”
Mrs Elliott, who had moved into Parkview just a few days earlier with her husband Bob, suffered severe injuries to her face and leg in the fall.
She was rushed to James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough but did not recover from her injuries.
The trial also heard from policeman Michael Barnes, who together with a colleague, was tasked with carrying out a search of Mrs Elliott’s room and the area around a conservatory where she fell.
In particular he was asked to look for a screwdriver or chain which should have been fitted to the window.
Mr Kemp said: “You didn’t find any chain or screwdriver during the search of either the room, the conservatory roof or the ground outside, is that right?”
Mr Barnes said: “Yes, that’s right.”
Matharu, of Elwick Road, Hartlepool, denies the health and safety breaches.
The trial continues.