23 July 2012
NHS Trust Fined
An NHS trust was fined and ordered to pay costs of almost half a
million pounds today/yesterday (Thursday 19 July) for placing a
bipolar sufferer in a care home where he went on to stab to death a
female care worker.
The Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Trust breached health and
safety regulations by not carrying out a proper risk assessment on
Stephen Flatt before he was transferred to the care home in
The owner of the care home, 58 years old Chelvanayagam Menna,
was also fined £75,000 and ordered to pay costs of £388,996 for
breaching health and safety regulations and failing to ensure the
safety of staff and residents at Abacus House in Princes Street,
Stephen Flatt who suffered from bipolar disorder arrived at the
home in July 2007. He was 55.
The following month he stabbed care worker Kathleen
Baibridge,58, to death and attacked and seriously wounded her
colleague Barbara Hill, who Luton crown court heard today is still
suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.
Judge Michael Baker QC said:" The failure of duty by the trust
and Mr Menna have led to the death of a dedicated carer, Kathleen
Bainbridge and devastated the lives of her husband and family. The
heartache continues even now."
He fined the trust 150,000 and ordered it to pays costs of
The judge said the death of Mrs Bainbridge could have been
avoided if the risks presented by Flatt had been properly assessed
and the short comings of Abacus House recognised. That would have
meant Flatt would never have been sent there, he said.
"Both defendants contributed to her death," said the judge
Dealing first with the trust the judge said the blame went "to a
senior management level."
Sentencing Menna the judge told him he was "You were the only
person who had direct and ultimate responsibility for safety." He
said he had failed to heed the concerns of his staff.
The judge went on "He allowed financial gain to guide him rather
than a prudent approach to issues of safety"
Judge Baker said Menna hadn't been candid when approached by the
trust over whether Abacus House could deal with someone like Flatt.
Abacus House, said the judge was not "competent" to deal with
Todays sentencing came after the Trust and Mr Menna were found
guilty after a trial which ended in June of breaching health and
Throughout the eight week trial the prosecution maintained Flatt
should never have been sent there because it was not geared up to
treat and look after anyone with bipolar, which Flatt suffered
Staff at the home were more used to dealing with people who had
been involved in road accidents and suffered brain injuries or
patients who had suffered a stroke or who had problems due to
alcohol or drug use.
Flatt, from St Albans, could be aggressive and violent and in
the past had carried offensive weapons. He had been known to
exhibit sexually inappropriate behaviour to women.
Abacus House, said the prosecution, was completely
Staff there also had concerns about him being there and shortly
before she died Mrs Bainbridge is said to have made the comment
about his quietness prior to the attack saying "Let's hope this is
not the calm before the storm."
In early 2007 Flatt, was sectioned under the Mental Health
Act and admitted to Albany Lodge in St Albans, a psychiatric unit
run by the trust.
He remained in an intensive care unit for two months and later
that spring spent a number of weeks in another psychiatric unit in
St Albans before returning to Albany Lodge.
He was later de-sectioned and the trust searched for a care home
that could take him.
It had never used Abacus house before but the decision was
eventually made to send Flatt there, arriving on July 18 2007.
The trust was found guilty of contravening a health a safety
regulation by failing to make a suitable assessment of the risk
It was also convicted of a second charge of failing to discharge
a duty to ensure persons not in its employment were exposed to
risks to their health and safety.
Mr Menna of Periwinikle Lane, Dunstable, was found guilty of
contravening a health a safety regulation by failing to carry out a
risk assessment and two charges of failing to discharge a duty.
During the trial Mrs Bainbridge's husband, Thomas told the court
she had been "frightened" of Flatt who could be aggressive.
Mr Bainbridge said Flatt had made a threat to staff that one of
them would "get their comeuppance." He said his wife had lost
weight as a result.
Giving evidence Mr Bainbridge said he and his wife had been
married for 29 years and lived in Farley Hill, Luton. They had two
daughters Jennifer and Danielle.
He said she had worked in care homes for 22 years and worked at
the highest grade with a Level 4 NVQ. When she died she had worked
at Abacus House for 3 years.
Mr Bainbridge an electrician said in July 2007 his wife's moods
had changed. "She was very tense. You knew something was wrong.
Something was eating away inside her."
Mrs Bainbridge, who was losing weight, told him she was
frightened of a new resident. He said he told his wife to have a
meeting with the owner and "to get it sorted."
On the day she died, Friday August 24 2007, he said he
called her mobile at work to ask here where she wanted a light
fitted in their home. He got no response and called the house
direct. One of the residents answered in a frantic state saying:
"You need to get here now."
He went on: "I assumed it was an electrical or plumbing problem.
I was driving to Dunstable when the police called and said to get
to the Luton and Dunstable hospital as 'quickly as you can'.
I assumed Kathy had gone to the hospital with a resident."
In April of 2009 Flatt was ordered to be detained for an
indefinite period in a secure hospital after being deemed unfit to
Please note - All of the court copies are provided
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