Care home staff told lift was 'out of order'

CARE home staff were advised not to use a lift by an engineer who removed a part two days before a 92-year-old resident fell down the shaft to her death, a court heard.

Paul Thompson was called to the North-East nursing home after staff smelled burning and he told the manager the lift was ‘out of order’.

The 61-year-old removed a ramp and said it could be a ‘couple of days’ before it could be replaced or repaired.

But two days later Elizabeth Young’s lifeless body was found on top of the lift, having fallen from the second floor down the shaft.

Mr Thompson and the company he worked for, Derwent Lift Services, of Annfield Plain, County Durham, are on trial accused of health and safety breaches, at Newcastle Crown Court.

Ellen Brown, manager of Heathdale Residential Care Home Home, Whitley Bay, said she was telephoned by staff who called the fire brigade after noticing a burning smell coming from the lift.

She said: “He said he would contact us on Monday, two days later, to say if they had a spare or whether it would need to go away to get fixed.

“We knew you could not use it at all. It had been disarmed. He said it was off and you not use it.”

The lift company, which is based on Greencroft Industrial Estate, has pleaded ‘not guilty’ to three counts of failing to discharge statutory duty between October 8, 1993, and September 23, 2010, as well as failing to conduct a suitable and safe risk assessment on or around September 18, 2010.

Mr Thompson, 61, of Hayleazes Road, Denton Burn, Newcastle, has pleaded ‘not guilty’ to one charge of failing to discharge statutory duty on or around September 18, 2010.

Prosecutors claim Mrs Young, a resident of around 18 months, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and walked with a zimmer frame, died after falling around ten feet because a lift door had been left insecure.

Mrs Brown said Mrs Young needed the lift to go downstairs, but was unlikely to have been able to open the door herself.

She said: “She was very slow. It would have been hard for her.”

The trial is expected to continue until next week.

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