Norfolk

Bawsey Pits drowning: Care home company fined for failures

Bawsey Pits
Image caption Umar Balogun died while swimming at Bawsey Pits in July 2013

A care home company has been ordered to pay £100,000 after a 16-year-old boy drowned at a former quarry in Norfolk.

Umar Balogun, who was being cared for at Castle Lodge home, Cambridge, died while swimming at Bawsey Pits.

The Old Bailey heard that Castle Homes Limited failed to carry out proper risk assessments for the trip in July 2013.

The company admitted breaching health and safety rules, while two support workers who faced charges over the death were cleared in January.

Judge Mark Dennis QC said the death exposed "flaws in the system" as well as "obvious errors" on the day.

Both staff members who went on the trip were "raw recruits", he added.

He ordered Castle Homes to pay a fine of £80,000 and prosecution costs of £20,000.

'Systemic failure'

At a previous sentencing hearing, prosecutor Quentin Hunt said employees of the home had taken boys on a trip to the former quarry.

Umar drowned after going into the water despite "no swimming" signs around the site.

Mr Hunt said: "Mr Balogun was seen to duck under the water and did not reappear."

He added that while there were "generic risk assessments", individual assessments were not made for trips like this and said there was "systemic failure" at Castle Lodge over a "long period".

In mitigation, Barrister Angus Withington said Castle Lodge was shut down "effectively as a moral decision" as it was thought to be "the right thing to do".

He said that Castle Homes had made changes after the accident including better health and safety procedures and staff training.

An inquest jury in 2015 ruled that Umar's death was accidental.

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