Sentencing update: £300,000 fine imposed for first corporate manslaughter conviction involving a care home
Published 11 February 2016
- Care home company Sherwood Rise Ltd fined £300,000 following its conviction for corporate manslaughter on 5 February 2016;
- First corporate manslaughter conviction against a care home;
- Care Home Director received custodial sentence following Guilty Plea to offence of gross negligence manslaughter;
- Care Home Manager received a suspended custodial sentence following a guilty plea to breaches of health and safety legislation.
Care Home company, Sherwood Rise Ltd has been fined £300,000 following its conviction for corporate manslaughter at Nottingham Crown Court on 5 February 2016. This is the first care home to be convicted under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 ('the Act'), since it came into force on April 2008.
The case related to the death of 86-year-old Ivy Atkin on 22 November 2012 following her stay at the Autumn Grange Residential Home in Nottingham. Ivy Atkin died after she was found dehydrated, malnourished and with untreated bed sores at Autumn Grange in 2012. Sherwood Rise Ltd, the company that owned Autumn Grange pleaded guilty to corporate manslaughter.
Yousaf Khan a Director of Sherwood Rise Limited, who was in charge of the day-to-day operation of Autumn Grange, was sentenced to 3 years and 2 months imprisonment after pleading guilty to gross negligence manslaughter. Mohammed Khan, who was employed as a manager at Autumn Grange, was sentenced to 1 year imprisonment suspended for 2 years after pleading guilty to breaches of Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 legislation.
The Defendants were found to have failed in their duty of care based on evidence of serious neglect in the provision of personal care, nutrition, accommodation and support to Mrs Atkin, who at the time of her death weighed just 3st 12lbs. The Police investigated the care home following concerns raised by a new member of staff. The Council ended its contract with the care home and the residents were removed, however Mrs Atkin died a few days later. A post mortem report found that neglect had directly contributed to Mrs Atkin' death.
Mrs Atkin, who suffered from dementia, was moved into the home following discharge from hospital. Investigators found that residents were neglected, care plans were not in place and food, water, heating, sanitation and cleanliness were not adequately provided for.
Comment on sentencing
New definitive Sentencing Guidelines for corporate manslaughter came into force earlier this month and apply to all organisations sentenced on or after 1 February 2016, regardless of the date of the offence and therefore applied to this case. The new guidelines allow for significantly greater fines to be imposed on convicted companies.
Applying them in this case, Sherwood Rise Ltd would be defined as a micro-organisation (turnover of up to £2million), which gives a starting point of a fine of between £300,000-£450,000 depending on the level of harm and culpability of the offence.
For larger organisations the guidelines suggest fines ranging up to £20 million, and even higher for very large organisations "to achieve a proportionate sentence."
The level of fine in this case at £300,000, is at the starting point of its category and is reflective of the fact that a guilty plea was entered at an earlier stage. The fine would have been much higher following conviction after a trial. The circumstances in this case were also quite extreme, and this is reflected in the fact that a charge of gross negligence manslaughter was brought at the same time and accepted by the Care Home Director, which is no doubt in light of the overwhelming evidence in the case.
This successful prosecution is likely to encourage the CPS to pursue other care homes for the offence of corporate manslaughter where serious neglect is in evidence.
What can we do to help?
- Access to experienced healthcare lawyers with expertise in criminal law who understand the sector in which these incidents arise;
- Assistance with proactive risk management and compliance reviews;
- 24/7 emergency advice and support following serious incidents, including attendance and advice at Police, HSE and CQC interviews;
- Strategic management of stakeholder relationships and police and HSE investigations;
- Board level briefing and support on Corporate Manslaughter, and health and safety risks bespoke to your organisation;
- Strategic advice to reduce the risk of prosecution;
- Defence of corporate and individual manslaughter, and health and safety prosecutions if charges are brought.