Hefty Fine Imposed on Charity Following Death of Support Employee

In a case involving the death of a charity organisation’s employee, Justice Keith of the Newcastle Crown Court slapped a hefty fine of £30,000 and added that a further £20,000 should be paid as costs by Mental Health Matters Ltd.

Ms Ashleigh Ewing, a young social worker who was approaching her 23rd birthday was attacked and killed by a mentally ill patient named Ronald Dixon, when she went to visit him at his home in Heaton in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Ms Ewing had been employed by Mental Health Matters Ltd. from December 20, 2005 and had just completed her six-month probation period on May 19, 2006 when she went to visit Ronald Dixon on that fateful day. Dixon allowed her to enter his house and then stabbed her. The injuries sustained by Ms Ewing proved to be fatal.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in charging Mental Health Matters Ltd. alleged that the accused had not paid heed to the warning signs arising from the deteriorating mental conditions of Ronald Dixon. Despite knowing that Dixon was unstable and potentially dangerous the organisation had allowed its young female employee to visit him without providing her with adequate security.

Taking all the above facts into consideration, Justice Keith of the Newcastle Crown Court concluded that Mental Health Matters Ltd. had committed a breach of sub section1 of Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974 and was thereby culpable.

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