The family of a 94-year-old Dundee man who fell to his death from a care home have settled their six-figure claim for damages against the Catholic Church.
Peter Connor’s family have reached a private out-of-court agreement with the church for an undisclosed amount of compensation.
Mr Connor fell nearly 30ft on to a concrete path 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 it was legally to blame for dementia sufferer Mr Connor’s death at Wellburn Care Home in Dundee in May 2017.
Dundee Sheriff Court was told that the run-down care home had failed to put security on its windows to prevent them being fully opened by elderly and vulnerable residents.
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 has deferred sentence to consider the level of fine to impose and accused the church of using “smoke and mirrors” in relation to its financial position.
He was told the trust had a £312,000 annual income but was in debt because its outgoings were more than double that amount.
However, he noted 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 Mr Connor on May 30 2017.
Depute fiscal William Duffy told the court: “Mr Connor moved to the care home on May 16 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 lying face down on the concrete. It was 8.3 metres from the window ledge to the ground.”
The court was told he had fractured his pelvis in two places and broken several ribs and had died as a result of the blunt force trauma caused by his fall.
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 on warm days.
The court was told the care home was closed completely less than 10 days after Mr Connor’s death 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.”
He said the failure to install window restrictors was a “genuine and honest oversight” and “a risk that was never picked up”.
Mr Connor’s family declined to comment on the settlement.