Wrexham home staff admit health and safety breaches

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Staff reporter

THE owner and manager of a residential home have admitted health and safety breaches after a pensioner fell out of a first floor window and later died.

Michael Clifford, 64, and his manager Noeline-Fawkes-Jones, 58, both of the Ryecroft Residential Home at Percy Road, Wrexham, are due to be sentenced tomorrow.

District Judge Andrew Shaw heard a small bathroom window had been sealed shut with paint since Clifford bought the home in 1992.

But he was unaware that in July 2009 Fawkes-Jones had used a hammer and chisel to open it during a particularly hot period.

Gordon Jones, 75, described as a quiet and shy man who had married his wife Elizabeth after meeting her at the home, went to the toilet but fell out of the window on to the patio below.

He had earlier been in the garden but did not appear for afternoon tea.

A member of staff who went to look for him saw Mr Jones directly below the window. He said: “I’ve fallen out lad.”

He suffered multiple fractures and internal injuries.

Interviewed in hospital before his death, he told how he had heard the sound of children in the street outside, lifted the window and looked out, but slipped and fell.

Matthew Corbett-Jones, prosecuting for Wrexham Council, said there was no restrictor on the window and two further first floor windows were found with no restrictors.

A warning letter had been sent out in October 2008 pointing out that restrictors should be installed on all windows accessible to residents.

It was a continuing breach, not an isolated lapse, and there was a significant risk of harm caused by access to an unrestricted window.

Richard Thomas, defending at Wrexham Magistrates’ Court, sitting in Mold, said Clifford had not thought it necessary to put restrictors on windows which could not be opened.

Mrs Fawkes-Jones, who had been at the home 17 years, had opened the window to improve ventilation.

Both accepted a system should have been in place to ensure a restrictor was installed.

The home had been praised for the standard of its care and its food, Fawkes-Jones was “the shining light” responsible for their care, and the death of Mr Jones had hit both defendants hard.

Such was the relationship they had, Clifford had “given away” Mr Jones’ wife-to-be at their wedding.

Mr Clifford admitted two health and safety breaches and Fawkes-Jones one.

See full story in the Leader

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