Man’s six-year wait to see justice served on Spalding care home
A retired HGV and taxi driver from Spalding whose mum caught hypothermia while staying at a care home has questioned his six-year wait for justice.
David Williamson (77), of Hawthorn Bank, said he was satisfied with the £70,000 fine imposed on Apex Care Ltd, owners of The Bungalow retirement home which his mum Betty Williamson (97) walked out of into the freezing cold in February 2012.
My issue is with the length of time it’s taken and the amount of money it’s cost to bring the case to court
Apex Care, who run the care home in Park Road, Spalding, had previously admitted breaching health and safety regulations in relation to providing residential care before the fine was handed down by a judge at Lincoln Crown Court on Friday.
Mr Williamson said: “The first I knew that Mum had got out of the home was when staff rang me to say that she was on her way to hospital in an ambulance.
“But they didn’t tell me that Mum had been out in the snow for an hour and a half, with some of the staff at the home looking for her.
“I went to the hospital where the doctor told me that Mum had severe hypothermia and that they wouldn’t be sending her back to the home because they were worried about how they were caring for her.”
Mrs Williamson eventually died in February 16, 2012, after complications from a hip operation which arose after she fell from her bed at Boston’s Pilgrim Hospital.
South Holland District Council took action against Apex Care after two more residents at The Bungalow had managed to leave the home, both of whom later died.
Mr Williamson said: “In my opinion, Mum’s death was a result of everything having snowballed from her getting out into the snow because if she hadn’t, she wouldn’t have been in hospital to then fall from her bed.
“I have no problem with The Bungalow because the staff there were very good and they looked after my mum.
“My issue is with the length of time it’s taken and the amount of money it’s cost to bring the case to court.
“When you’ve had a bereavement, you don’t want this sort of thing to drag on and I feel that this case has cost too much time and too much money.”
A district council spokesman said: “This was a complex case which involved three separate incidents and three separate investigations.
“As all of these were vulnerable people, it was clearly in the public interest to proceed.
“The council is under a statutory duty to investigate and, where necessary, to prosecute and the judge said that Apex Care Ltd had failed all three residents.
“Cost should not be a material factor to proceed with a prosecution, nor should a price be put on the care of a loved one.
“However, it is standard practice not to instigate prosecution proceedings until Her Majesty’s Coroners Office has either dealt with any inquests or ruled that an inquest is not required.
“This matter was not fully concluded by South Lincolnshire Coroner’s Office until January 2017 and after this date, the council commenced prosecution proceedings swiftly.”