The Courier

Catholic church sued for six-figure sum over fatal fall in Dundee care home

Wellburn House.

Relatives of a 94-year-old man who plunged to his death from the window of a Dundee care home are suing the Catholic Church for a six-figure sum.

Peter Connor, who had dementia, fell from a second floor window of Wellburn Care Home in Liff Road on May 30 2017.

Mr Connor had only been a resident there for two weeks.

The home, run by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dunkeld, was shut down a few days after the tragedy.

The Diocese decided to close it permanently a few weeks later, saying the building was no longer fit for purpose.

Relatives have now started civil proceedings as prosecutors also consider criminal charges.

A family statement released by lawyers Digby Brown Solicitors said: “There are no words to describe the pain in losing Peter.

“He was a loving husband, dad and grandfather who despite his failing memory was still physically strong.

“We hope our case against the Diocese will hold them accountable for the senseless and avoidable loss of our father.”

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Paperwork from the day Mr Connor died shows staff last checked on him shortly after 4am.

At 7am, an employee found his body outside underneath his window.

Relatives were notified two hours later by police.

A post-mortem confirmed the pensioner died from multiple injuries after a “fall from height”.

The family say their distress was compounded when, after the service, they discovered the bishop who conducted Mr Connor’s funeral was also the care home’s spokesman.

Investigators have submitted a report to the procurator fiscal who is now considering criminal charges over health and safety breaches.

Sarah Douglas, associate at Digby Brown Solicitors in Dundee, is pursuing the civil claim on the grounds the home failed to have measures in place to prevent the window being opened wide enough to allow Mr Connor to fall from it.

She said:  “Mr Connor’s family are understandably shocked and upset at his untimely and preventable death.

“Everyone should be able to expect care homes to deliver the best care to those under their roofs.

“In a care home setting, health and safety legislation exists to protect some of society’s most vulnerable members.

“This case is against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dunkeld as owners and managers of the care home, but as it is ongoing it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

It is understood Mr Connor’s family is seeking a six-figure sum in damages.

A spokesman for the Diocese of Dunkeld said:”Our thoughts and prayers remain with Mr Connor’s family following his tragic death last year.

“As Wellburn Care Home is now closed and the Diocese subject to ongoing legal proceedings, it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.”

A Crown Office spokesman said:  “The Procurator Fiscal has received a report from the Health and Safety Executive in connection with the death of a 94 year-old man in Dundee on 30 May 2017.

“The investigation into the death, under the direction of the Crown’s Health and Safety Division is ongoing and the family will continue to be kept updated in relation to any significant developments.”