Tyne & Wear

Lift fall death in Whitley Bay: Engineer Paul Thompson cleared

Heathdale Rest Home in Whitley Bay
Image caption Elizabeth Young fell from the second floor of the home

An engineer has been cleared of a safety breach after a 92-year-old woman fell into a lift shaft and died.

Elizabeth Young died after falling 10ft (3m), from the second floor of Heathdale Rest Home, in Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, in September 2010.

Paul Thompson, 60, of Denton Burn, Newcastle, had denied breaking the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Derwent Lift Services Ltd was cleared of three counts, but found guilty of one risk assessment breach.

The company, based in Stanley, County Durham, will be sentenced at a later date.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the fall happened when the lift was disconnected awaiting spare parts.

Mrs Young, a dementia sufferer who used a walking aid, was able to open the broken doors on the second floor.

'Technical nature'

Mr Thompson was accused of failing to ensure that the doors were locked, but was cleared following a week-long trial.

Speaking after the verdict, Derwent Lift Services said in a statement that it was "saddened" by Mrs Young's death.

It added: "The company has always denied that any of its actions caused her death and is relieved that the jury's verdict appeared to vindicate that view.

"Although the company is naturally disappointed to be convicted of one of the charges, it notes that this was of a technical nature and not connected to Mrs Young's death."

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