Belfast Telegraph

Health Trust may face corporate manslaughter charge as mum claims her son was allowed to starve to death

By Deborah McAleese

A charge of corporate manslaughter is being considered against Belfast Health Trust in relation to the death of a 22-year-old man in the City Hospital.

Sean Paul Carnahan died five months after being admitted to hospital with a brain injury following a suicide attempt in 2012.

A number of failings in the west Belfast man's care were found during a review of his treatment by the Trust, a preliminary inquest was told yesterday.

Some of the failings related to nutritional management and record-keeping by nursing staff.

His heartbroken mother Tracy Carnahan has accused the Trust of allowing her son "starve to death".

A report by the review team concluded that "a number of actions/omission" have been identified "which may have contributed to a negative outcome for the patient".

The report added: "However, a more important problem in the team's view was the lack of a timely multidisciplinary approach to planning care which may have avoided some of the individual problems that arose."

On the back of the report the PSNI is to meet the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) next week to consider if corporate manslaughter charges against the Trust should be pursued.

Police launched an investigation last year following a complaint by Sean Paul's mother.

A lawyer for the Carnahan family told the court yesterday that "there is compelling evidence here for the police to take forward their investigation".

Mr Carlin also criticised the Trust for failing to offer any apology to the Carnahan family.

"There's no apology from the Trust or expression of sympathy. There is not even the use of the word death. It talks about the 'negative outcome'," he added. A lawyer for the Belfast Trust insisted however: "Corporate manslaughter is unlikely to be a finding when one considers the treatment of Sean Paul."

Sean Paul, from the Beechmount area, was admitted to Belfast City hospital in March 2013 following a suicide attempt. He had been a regular user of legal highs and was left brain-damaged by the suicide attempt. He died five months later in hospital.

Tracy said she believed her son may still be alive today had he received better medical care.

"Sean Paul died of starvation because staff gave up on him. I had to watch my child waste away in front of me. He was five stone when he died. I don't know if Sean Paul would ever have walked out of that hospital, but he should have been given a chance," said Tracy.

The mother-of-six added: "We are not a Third World country so I find it hard to accept the poor level of care my son was given. I just want people held accountable for Sean Paul's death. It was horrific watching him die.

"I have been left devastated. My kids are devastated. The whole family has been pulled apart. It is also so hurtful that in the report the Trust refers to the 'negative outcome', not Sean Paul's death. A negative outcome is missing a bus, not your son's death."

Belfast Health Trust said it "would like to extend our sympathy to the Carnahan family on the sad death of Sean Paul".

The Trust added: "We recognise how difficult this process is for the family. We will continue to work with the PSNI and the coroner during this investigation. However, we cannot discuss the detail of the case further."

The inquest was adjourned for five weeks to allow the PSNI and PPS time to consider whether charges should be brought against Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.

Belfast Telegraph


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