Family of Freckleton woman who died after brutal care home assault will take case to High Court

The family of a 91-year-old woman who died after being dragged out of bed, punched and kicked in a Freckleton care home have vowed to take her case to the High Court.

By Wes Holmes
Sunday, 26th December 2021, 3:45 pm
Jessie McKinlay died as a result of being attacked by a fellow resident at her care home
Jessie McKinlay died as a result of being attacked by a fellow resident at her care home

Jessie McKinlay was savagely attacked by fellow resident Alan Whiteside, 75, at around 1.30am on February 14 2019 at the Old Vicarage Care Home.

She suffered a broken hip, a broken shoulder, and a slow bleed on the brain which led to her developing bronchopneumonia and dying nine weeks later. Frailty was also a contributing factor.

At an inquest, coroner Alan Wilson found there had been failures in her care, but that this did not amount to neglect, despite care home staff logging 149 complaints about Mr Whiteside's violent behaviour before he went on to attack the mum-of-seven.

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Her daughter, Mary Eaves, said the family will challenge Mr Wilson's narrative verdict in a higher court.

She said: "At the end of the day, my mum died from her injuries. Whether she was frail or not, she was battered. When the pathologist compared my mum to another lady that age who was not frail, she said she felt she still would have died.

"Knowing the extend of my mum's injuries, and how she suffered before her death, we are confused and upset that nobody is being held accountable. All the evidence we have, the 149 reports from staff, the eyewitness reports - all the evidence points to the fact that her death was preventable.

"We want to look at it all again, and take further action.

"So often you see headlines about failures in care homes, and every time they say it has to stop - but it hasn't stopped. We care about all the other elderly people in homes who don't have family members to stand up for them and speak on their behalf, and we want to do this for them."

People have the ability to challenge inquest results by applying for a judicial review in the High Court. If successful, the conclusion can be overturned and a new investigation will take place.

The narrative conclusion in Mrs McKinlay's case, which ended earlier this month, read: "On February 14 2019, another resident who had previously been diagnosed with mixed dementia entered Jessie's room. During recent months, that resident was known to have been verbally and physically aggressive towards staff and, more recently, towards other residents.

"In October 2018 efforts had been made to reduce his levels of agitation by a change of medication... but within weeks his aggressive behaviour became more regular. He was known to wander into the rooms of other residents. The extent of the risk he posed to other residents was not fully appreciated, in part because social workers and mental health professionals were not aware of the extent of his aggressive behaviour."

The coroner declined to make a finding of gross neglect, and did not opt to write to any authorities involved in Mrs McKinlay's care following the hearing.

Mary said: "We re unhappy with the findings, and we feel somebody should be made accountable for it."

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