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Owners of care home admit health and safety breaches following death of resident

The owners of a care home, where an elderly woman died of hypothermia, have pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety regulations.

Annie Barritt, 91, a resident of the Oaklands Country Rest Home in Kirk Hammerton, near York, was taken to Harrogate hospital after being found unwell in her room on Sunday 4 November, 2012. Her temperature was found to be 25.3°C, rather than the average normal body temperature of 37°C. Mrs Barritt died that night.

An inquest into her death was held in November 2015 and found that there had been an inappropriately low temperature in her room and a failure to provide adequate basic care. Mrs Barritt had been suffering from dementia and as a consequence was unable to make a decision regulating the regulation of temperature in her room.

Harrogate Borough Council launched its own investigation into the death, which found there had been a serious breach of health and safety legislation and there was sufficient evidence to summons Maria Mallaband Care Group Limited, the owners of the care home,  with one offence contrary to section 33(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

On Friday 17 June 2016 at Harrogate Magistrates Court, Maria Mallaband Care Group Limited entered a plea of guilty to the offence.  Magistrates agreed with Harrogate Borough Council that sentencing should take place at York Crown Court as their sentencing powers were not sufficient and that greater punishment was needed. Magistrates committed the case for sentencing to York Crown Court on a provisional date of Friday 8 July 2016.

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