A CARE home company has been fined £90,000 after a woman sustained serious injuries by falling down a lift shaft.

Last week Pearlcare Wellfield Limited denied four counts relating to alleged heath and safety contraventions over a lift shaft at one of its care homes in Hawarden.

On Tuesday a Jury at Mold Crown Court found the company guilty on all four charges.

Lorraine Carter was 60 years of age when she was appointed manager of Wellfield Care Home in Wood Lane, in 2018.

Three days after taking charge, she was alerted to a fault with the home's lift, it having not dropped fully on the ground floor.

After opening the lift door on the first floor by using an emergency key, she fell down the shaft a short time later and sustained serious injuries.

Reading from her victim impact statement at the sentencing hearing on Wednesday, Mrs Carter said: "after nearly three years, I have improved greatly but am nowhere near back to being my old self.

"I will be eternally grateful to the surgeons at Stoke Hospital for piecing me back together and for all of the NHS care I have had.

"I am extremely lucky to survive this."

She said the incident had left her with ongoing mobility and mental health difficulties, for which she relied on her children and family to support her.

During the trial it was said that Mrs Carter had taken the emergency release key for the lift door from a shelf after being told about it by a staff member at the home.

She told the court she hadn't been trained in the use of the key.

James Michael Hill, prosecuting for Flintshire Council, said: "We say multiple people were exposed to the risk of harm and the level of harm risked was in fact death.

"Someone falling up to 2.4 metres could clearly lose their life."

He added he would not apply for compensation because there are civil proceedings "pending" and that the civil courts will "make that decision in due course."

Mark Alexander Balysz, defending on behalf of Pearlcare, said: "The company has been convicted and accepts that conviction - that it failed to ensure the safety of employees and non employees."

Judge Niclas Parry said: "The facts of this case serve to to underline the high standard imposed on companies like the defendant company.

"On the face of the evidence, the defendant company could, on one view, be criticised for not only having a trial but basing their defence on what was an attack on the character of the unfortunate victim."

The Judge said Mrs Carter had "no doubt" acted in what she considered to be the best interests of the care home.

He continued: "Her conduct in the immediate aftermath was exemplary; thinking not of herself but the immediate risk to others.

"Remarkably, she continued to give instructions from her post accident position to protect others.

"The accident has changed her life completely and that is likely, to varying degrees, to remain the case."

He said the care home had systems in place regarding the lift, but they were "inadequate."

Judge Parry handed the company a fine of £90,000 for the the charge of failing to ensure the health and safety of employees including Mrs Carter.

He issued no separate penalty on the the other three counts the company was found guilty of, emphasising the principle of totality and that all four counts arose from the same failure.

The Judge also ordered the company to pay costs of £85,000 - with the total sum to be paid within the next 18 months.

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