Court clash over safety failings claim after woman’s death fall from care home window

Matt Matharu at Teesside Crown Court
Matt Matharu at Teesside Crown Court

A COUNCIL officer who investigated a care home where a 90-year-old woman plunged to her death after climbing out of her bedroom window has been quizzed over his finding on its safety measures.

Parkview Residential Home owner Matt Matharu claims there were sufficient measures in place during his trial at Teesside Crown Court.

Patrick Crowe, a senior environmental health officer, was pressed under cross examination why he did not think devices fitted to the home’s windows were not good enough.

The trial at Teesside Crown Court has heard how Norah Elliott was able to get out of one of her bedroom windows on the first floor and onto a conservatory roof before falling onto the concrete below.

She later died in James Cook University Hospital, in Midddlesbrough, after suffering severe face and leg injuries.

The court has heard how a chain was present over the left hand window of the room she shared with her husband Bob but not on another where she climbed out of.

Chris Morrison, defending Matharu, 50, suggested to Mr Crowe the chain was not easy to overcome and there was strict controls around the availability of knives and other cutlery as part of the home’s policies.

Mr Morrison said of the chain: “It is even harder for a resident to defeat because access to any potential means was restricted within the confines of the home in the first place.”

Mr Crowe responded: “I disagree, because the fact Mrs Elliott got out in the first place suggests that [chain] wasn’t there in the first place or was easily defeatable.”

Mr Crowe agreed that a stopper put onto the window in question after the fall on October 22, 2012, did restrict how far the window could be opened.

But he added: “My concern was the stopper screws were on display and it was at such a low and accessible level it could easily be overridden.”

The trial also heard from Sergeant Gary Cowan, of Hartlepool, police who carried out a search of Mrs Elliott’s room shortly after her fall.

Sgt Cowan said: “The right hand window had holes as if there had been something attached to the window but there was no chain actually on the window.”

Matharu, of Elwick Road, Hartlepool, denies four health and safety breaches.

The defence case is expected to start on Monday.