Firm fined £100,000 after boy in its care drowned during trip to Bawsey Pits

PUBLISHED: 13:05 10 March 2017 | UPDATED: 13:05 10 March 2017

A firm has been ordered to pay £100,000 after a 16-year-old boy in its care drowned on a trip to Bawsey Pits. PHOTO: Matthew Usher.

A firm has been ordered to pay £100,000 after a 16-year-old boy in its care drowned on a trip to Bawsey Pits. PHOTO: Matthew Usher.

Archant

A firm has been ordered to pay £100,000 after a 16-year-old boy in its care drowned on a trip to Bawsey Pits.

Castle Homes Limited, which ran Castle Lodge home for young people, in Cambridgeshire, admitted breaching health and safety regulations over the incident on July 16, 2013.

Two support workers - one from Wisbech - also faced charges over the death of Umar Balogun, from Waltham Forest, north-east London, but were cleared following a trial at King’s Lynn Crown Court.

At the Old Bailey, Judge Mark Dennis QC ordered Castle Homes to pay a fine of £80,000 and £20,000 prosecution costs to the Health and Safety Executive.

He said the death exposed “flaws in the system” as well as “obvious errors” on the day, including failing to make a risk assessment for the trip.

Both staff members who went on the trip were “raw recruits” when there was another more experienced person who could have gone, he said.

Outlining the case, Prosecutor Quentin Hunt said staff made no efforts to stop Umar and another boy from getting into the water despite a number of “No swimming” signs.

Mr Hunt, for the Health and Safety Executive, said there was “systemic failure” at Castle Lodge which went on over a “long period”.

He said: “The failings of the company amount to high culpability. The company was directly and immediately responsible for the trip from the home which resulted in the fatal accident.”

He highlighted “inadequate” training and induction of staff and said ad hoc trips had no proper risk assessment.

Mitigating, Angus Withington said Castle Lodge was shut down “effectively as a moral decision” as it was thought to be “the right thing to do”.

He outlined changes Castle Homes had made in the wake of the accident.

They included a requirement for temporary staff to read health and safety documentation, enforcement of “group leader responsibilities”, and training in “dynamic risk assessment”.

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