A HOUSING trust has been convicted of a health and safety offence at its residential community for the elderly.
A York Crown Court jury found Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust guilty of not properly assessing the risks that residents at Red Lodge home, New Earswick could face.
The Trust was acquitted of failing to ensure the health and safety of residents at the home. 
City of York Council prosecuted the Trust following the death of Dora Strickland, 90, who jumped from a second floor window of the home in 2011.  
The jury heard she had told staff on more than one occasion that she would do so, or that she would take her own life.
Judge Andrew Stubbs QC will sentence the Trust tomorrow. 
Following the verdicts, both the Trust's chief executive Campbell Robb and the council's executive member for health and safety, Cllr Andrew Waller, expressed their sympathy towards Mrs Strickland's family.
Mr Robb also said the Trust welcomed the verdict that it had not exposed Mrs Strickland and other residents to risk and accepted the verdict regarding its risk assessments. 
He said it would learn any lessons it could from the case and had put in place "robust" measures regarding risk assessments and windows at the home. 
“We want to reassure our residents and our families in all our care homes that they are safe and will continue to receive high quality care,” he said. 
A council spokesman said it had worked with the Trust to ensure windows at the home now have lockable restrictors. 
Cllr Waller said: "All employers and care home owners have a duty of care to both staff and residents and to knowingly disregard the law and key guidance with such tragic consequences is something we will never overlook.”


York Press:

At the end of the eight-day trial, the jury convicted the Trust of a charge that the home didn’t have a suitable and sufficient risk assessment, or document outlining potential dangers at the home for residents including Mrs Strickland and how the dangers could be overcome.
They heard evidence that neither the risk assessment covering the home in general at the time nor the individual risk assessment for Mrs Strickland, first drawn up when she entered the home, mentioned windows and the danger that residents may fall or jump through them.
The jury acquitted the trust of failure to ensure the health and safety of residents including Mrs Strickland. 
During his closing speech,  defence barrister Mark Balysz for the trust, argued that health and safety law did not require the home to prevent Mrs Strickland from jumping from the window if that was her free choice.
The jury heard evidence that there were catches fitted to the windows at the home, but that these could be released by residents.
Since her death, the windows have also been fitted  with locks, but that residents have the key to windows in their own rooms and that staff can only take the keys off them if they are assessed as being mentally unfit to have them.   They cannot, by law, forcefully remove the keys from someone who is mentally able, the jury were told.
During the trial, Dr Kevin Anderson told the jury he had checked Mrs Strickland’s psychiatric health about a month before her death and decided she knew what she was doing and was not obviously depressed or suicidal.
Judge Andrew Stubbs QC adjourned sentence until this morning  so that Mr Balysz could be present. 
Cllr Waller said: “My sympathies go to the family of this resident and I hope this outcome on one of the charges brings them some sense of justice”
Mr Robb said: "We are deeply saddened by Mrs Strickland’s suicide in 2011 and we recognise the impact this very sad case has had on her family.
“While we welcome the jury’s verdict that we are not guilty of exposing our residents to risk, we accept the jury’s verdict relating to records of risk assessments on windows at the time of the incident.
“Since 2011, we have implemented a robust risk assessment relating to windows in our care homes and will learn any lessons from this case to ensure we continue to put residents and their safety and wellbeing at the heart of what we do."
The jury took more than seven hours to reach their unanimous verdicts after the end of a week-long  trial during which much of the evidence was not disputed and during which the lawyers had legal arguments lasting more than a day at the end of the prosecution case.