Denise Breen-Lawton KC achieves success in care home neglect case

Denise Breen Lawton-KC recently successfully defended in a prosecution brought against directors, area, home managers, and employees of a care home company.

The prosecution case was that during 2016 and 2017 the deaths of five residents across two care homes was attributable to neglect on behalf of the care staff and the consent, connivance and/or neglect of the Home Managers, Regional Managers and Directors. Charges were brought of failing to discharge a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and wilful neglect by a care worker under the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015.

The case involved the analysis of tens of thousands of pages of served and disclosed material, relating to internal investigations conducted by the Care Quality Commission, an internal Local Authority Clinical Commissioning Group, medical and GP records.

Denise and her junior, Holly Thompson of Wilberforce Chambers, Hull raised significant issues surrounding the admissibility and independence of the Prosecution’s principal expert witness. Further issues regarding the integrity of the disclosure process came to light. Denise and Holly led the argument regarding the admissibility of the core prosecution expert evidence. This involved drafting skeleton arguments relating to complex abuse of process and s.78 exclusion arguments over a four-week period following the discharge of the jury.

As a result of those skeleton arguments the Prosecution conducted a comprehensive review and subsequently indicated in writing that it would offer no evidence in respect of all eight defendants listed for trial. However, within 48 hours of that decision, the Prosecution did an about turn and applied to adjourn the trial for disclosure to be revisited and a new expert to be instructed. The application to adjourn was opposed over two days’ legal argument and ultimately refused. The Prosecution offered no evidence against all defendants listed for trial, meaning those defendants were able to retain their good character.

Denise, leading Holly Thompson of Wilberforce Chambers, was instructed by Bill Waddington and assisted by Emma Suthers of Williamsons Solicitors, Hull.

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Denise Breen-Lawton

Denise Breen-Lawton KC

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