A care worker has admitted breaking Health & Safety law after an autistic man drowned.

The man was on an activity trip with patients from Mapperley’s Springwood Day Centre which cares for people with learning difficulties. After lunch, the man decided to walk around a lake instead of going on a boat with the rest of the group.

An inquest heard a carer walking with the man was “distracted” while messaging someone she met on a dating website. Rather than keep watch she spent some 19 minutes calling and texting. This was despite previously being warned by her employer about using her phone at work.

The man needed constant care as he had a mental age of four, epilepsy and a history of seizures. He had walked three quarters of the way round when the carer lost sight of him.

He was found floating face-down by dog walkers.

Acts or omissions at work

Nikki Deaney admitted “her acts or omissions at work” meant she failed to take reasonable care for the Health & Safety of her client under the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

After an 11 day inquest, the jury ruled the victim died because of the “failure of one-to-one care” while under supervision. Deaney’s safety failings included:

  • Failing to meet her duty of care as a care assistant
  • Failing to take care of and supervise the man
  • Using her mobile at work
  • Becoming separated from the man
  • Allowing the man to approach water unescorted and unsupervised

Deaney will be sentenced on February 21.

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