Blackpool mum takes quest for 'justice' over disabled daughter's death to European Court of Human Rights
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Jackie Maguire, who had Down's Syndrome, had been ill for a week and a half and suffered a suspected seizure the day before her death in February 2017.
Ambulance services had been called to the United Response Care Home in St Annes, where she lived, however, the 52-year-old became distressed and refused to go with paramedics.
She was therefore allowed to remain at the home until the following morning, when she was rushed to Blackpool Victoria Hospital in a serious condition. She sadly died later that day from a perforated stomach ulcer and pneumonia.
Jackie had been detained in the home for a number of years under deprivation of liberty safeguards. An inquest found she died of natural causes.
However, despite the family’s pleas, the hearing didn’t examine the wider circumstances of Jackie’s death, including the care and treatment she received in the lead up to her death and whether the state had a duty to protect Jackie’s right to life under Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights.
Jackie’s mum, Muriel Maguire, launched a legal challenge against the decision not to hold an Article 2 inquest. However, following several appeals, the Supreme Court – the UK’s highest court - rejected her case last June.
Muriel, of Blackpool, has now instructed expert public law and human rights lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to support her in taking her appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg.
The family wants the (ECHR) to determine whether the UK State did owe Jackie Article 2 rights.
Rebecca Chapman, the public law and human rights specialist at Irwin Mitchell supporting Muriel and her family, said: “This is a tragic case and Muriel and the family are committed to doing everything in their power to secure what they believe would be justice for Jackie.
“The family believe strongly there were issues in the care Jackie received in the lead up to her death and that these should’ve been considered as part of the original inquest.
“We’re now advising and supporting Muriel who is determined to continue her quest for answers in her daughter’s memory.
“People detained under deprivation of liberty safeguards are some of society’s most vulnerable. Therefore, it’s vital that those in charge of their care always uphold such safeguards at all times.”
Jackie required 24-hour supervision
The day before her death in February 2017, Jackie suffered fits and the care home called 111. An ambulance attended and thought Jackie was refusing to go to hospital.
An out of hours GP was contacted but told care home staff that it would be ‘a bit daft’ to get Jackie out to an ambulance at that time of night. Instead, he advised she be kept under supervision overnight and for staff to contact the GP in the morning.
But by the following morning, Jackie's condition had worsened and another ambulance was called to the care home. This time Jackie was taken to hospital but sadly died later that day from a fatal cardiac arrest.
Given inquests take into account the state’s duty to protect the right to life of other groups deprived of liberty - such as mental health patients and prisoners - Muriel believes that Jackie should have had the same consideration given to her.
As part of their legal challenge, as no legal aid is available, Muriel needs to raise £25,000 to cover the costs of making an initial application to the ECHR.
Jackie was the life and soul of the care home
Muriel said: “Jackie was a wonderful daughter. She could communicate by uttering one or two words at a time which, together with gesturing and the strength of her personality, meant she usually could make herself known to those who knew her well.
“She was the life and soul of the care home and was very popular with the other residents. She had her own sitting room but joined the other residents for meals and social occasions.
“To think Jackie’s life ended the way it did will stay with me forever. Those last 48 hours and what she went through were dreadful. She lost consciousness so many times. She wouldn't have known what was happening to her. She did not deserve to die the way she did. Nobody does.
“If we’re successful, the court will have decided that human rights law did apply so that the state did have a duty to protect Jackie’s life. This means the true circumstances of Jackie’s death will finally be established and future inquest juries will, in cases like Jackie's, be allowed to identify failings and make judgmental findings, and these will become part of the Record of Inquest.
“This isn’t just about justice for Jackie but also helping others who don’t have the mental capacity to act in their best interests.
“If the European Court of Human Rights sides with us there will be accountability and lessons will be learned which will help to prevent such tragic deaths in the future. This is so important, and to me, and all of Jackie’s family, her death will not have been in vain.”