The Catholic Church has admitted it was to blame for a 94-year-old man plunging to his death from a care home window.
Peter Connor fell nearly 30ft on to concrete after climbing out of a second-floor window a fortnight after moving into the church-run care home.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Dunkeld Trust admitted criminal responsibility for dementia sufferer Mr Connor’s death at Wellburn Care Home in Dundee in May 2017.
Dundee Sheriff Court was told that the rundown care home had failed to put security on its windows to prevent them being fully opened by elderly and vulnerable residents.
Mr Connor, who suffered from Alzheimer’s, also had a boxed-off water pipe under the window which acted as a platform to climb up and fall out to his death.
The court was told that two-hourly checks had been carried out on Mr Connor but his 6am check had been missed because the nurse was busy dealing with another resident.
Sheriff Alistair Carmichael deferred sentence to consider the level of fine to impose and accused the church of using “smoke and mirrors” over its financial position.
He was told the trust had £312,000 annual income but was in debt because its outgoings were more than double that amount. However, he noted that the accounts showed £14 million in available assets and said the trust had blown an “eye-watering” £730,000 on architects fees “for which nothing has been achieved.”
The trust admitted health and safety failings between July 31 2015 and June 2 2017 which exposed residents to risk and led to the death of Peter Connor, 94, on May 30 2017.
Depute fiscal William Duffy said: “Mr Connor moved to the care home on 16 May 2017. He could become confused and had difficulty carrying out tasks such as dressing himself.
“He was in bedroom 25 on the second floor. The window was not restricted in any way. It opened by swinging the window into the room. At 6.40am a staff nurse on the first floor looked out and saw what appeared to be pyjamas lying on the ground. They looked up and noticed Mr Connor’s window open.
“Two members went outside and found him face down on the concrete path. It was a distance of 8.3 metres from the window ledge to the ground.’’
“The room had not been fitted with any form of restrictor which would prevent a whole body from entering or exiting the window,” Mr Duffy said.
“The Diocese failed to implement window restrictors at the care home. Appropriate investment had not been made. It appears that was due to the care home being kept running until new premises could be built.”
He said keys were missing in several rooms, which meant the windows could not be locked, and it was a similar situation in the public corridor.
He said there was no air conditioning in the care home and the windows were often left open during warm days because the building got hot.
The court was told that the care home was closed completely less than 10 days later and all of the residents were rehoused. The building is still unsold.
Peter Gray QC, for the church, said: “It is a matter of most profound regret and remorse in equal measure that he lost his life as a result of failings for which the Diocese is responsible.”
Mr Connor’s family are suing the church in the civil court.