Latest hearing in prosecution of Priory Group following death of 14 year old

By agency reporter
April 16, 2019

The latest hearing into the Health and Safety prosecution of the Priory Group following the death of 14 year old Amy El-Keria will take place on 16 to 17 April 2019 in Lewes Crown Court. This is understood to be the first prosecution of its kind and is a historic moment in terms of accountability following deaths of children in private mental health settings.

The Priory pleaded guilty to the charges in January 2019. This hearing will consider the part their health and safety failures played in Amy’s death.

Amy was a child with complex needs associated with multiple mental health diagnoses. She died whilst an NHS funded patient in a specialist children’s unit at Ticehurst House in East Sussex, a private psychiatric hospital run by the Priory Group. Amy was found unresponsive with a ligature in her locked hospital room on 12 November 2012 and was pronounced dead the following day. An inquest jury in 2016 found that neglect by the Priory contributed to Amy’s death.

The HSE commenced a criminal investigation after the conclusion of the inquest. This resulting prosecution was brought against the Priory Group for offences relating to Amy’s death under Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety Act.

The prosecution has been brought by the Health and Safety Executive, the UK government agency responsible for the regulation and enforcement of workplace health, safety and welfare. Charges relate to section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, which states “It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.”

The inquest into Amy’s death concluded on 2nd June 2016. The coroner wrote a Prevention of Future Deaths report, which summarises the findings of the inquest.

For the past eighteen months, ITV's 'Exposure' has been making a film about Amy El Keria and conditions inside the specialist unit at Ticehurst House. The film, to which INQUEST has contributed, and which contains harrowing scenes, has been delayed because of the Health and Safety Prosecution, but is due to broadcast once sentence has been passed.

INQUEST says there is an absence of publicly available information about the number and circumstances of deaths of children and young people who have died while receiving in-patient mental health care from the Priory Group and other providers. This remains in contrast to all other state detention deaths. 

* Read the Prevention of Future Deaths report here

* INQUEST https://www.inquest.org.uk/

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