On 14 June 2019, Sussex Partnership Foundation Trust (the “Trust”) was sentenced for failing to act in accordance with Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014: Regulation 12 in their care of Jamie Osborne, a 19 year old prisoner at HMP Lewes. Jamie took his own life at HMP Lewes in 2016.
The Regulation states that “care and treatment must be provided in a safe way for service users”. The sentence was handed down by District Judge Tessa Szagun. DJ Szagun stated that she has made her sentencing decision in accordance with the Health and Safety Offences, Corporate Manslaughter Definitive Guideline as this is an analogous offence to the offence under Regulation 12, for which there are no guidelines. However, she noted that “punishment and deterrence must be key”.
Further information about the Trust’s failings in relation to Jamie Osborne can be found here.
DJ Szagun first addressed the culpability of the Trust. She acknowledged the difficulty of having to manage patients in a prison environment, which is not always conducive to the provision of therapeutic treatments as various factors are beyond the Trust’s control.
However, she went on to note that the Trust:
Failed to make proactive efforts to maintain staff training;
Failed to liaise with prison staff regarding the mental health needs of the prisoners;
Failed to follow up concerns in a timely manner; and
Failed to adhere to policy.
However, she also noted that some blame may be attributable to the prison itself as the Trust and the prison service have a joint responsibility to act in accordance with policy and this was not adhered to.
DJ Szagun was also fairly critical of the Trust’s view that the regime of the prison prevented them from carrying out their duties effectively. She highlighted that the “provision and prioritisation of hospital accommodation is the direct responsibility of the Trust” and that as a health body, the Trust must prioritise patients’ needs.
As a result of the above, DJ Szagun deemed the culpability of the Trust to be “high”.
DJ Szagun then went on to address the harm caused by the Trust’s failures.
She started by stating that the Trust was under the onus to provide service to the same standard as that which Mr Osborne could have expected to receive in the community. She noted that Mr Osborne did not contribute to the resulting harm in any way.
DJ Szagun drew on the Sentencing Guidelines mentioned above to determine the starting point for her assessment of the value of the fine. The starting point was £350,000.00.
She then adjusted the value of the fine to account for the fact that:
The Trust had cooperated fully in the criminal proceedings;
It had a good track record; and
It had made an effort to remedy concerns which were raised as a result of the death of Mr Osborne.
However, she also noted that the value of the fine must reflect the seriousness of the harm and be proportionate.
She determined that the correct value of the fine is £300,000.00.
The Trust pleaded guilty to the offence on 6 March 2019. Where a Defendant pleads guilty to an offence, it is usual for the sentence to be reduced by one third. Therefore, the fine was reduced to £200,000.00, plus legal costs and surcharge. This made the total sum payable £225,170.00.
We have been working with Jamie’s mother since his death in anticipation of the Inquest into his death. Three years on, the many questions she has for the Prison and the Trust remain unanswered. She continues to fight for justice for Jamie.
Jamie’s mother is represented by Kelly Darlington of Farleys Solicitors and Paul Clark of Garden Court Chambers.
If you would like to speak our specialist inquest team regarding legal representation at inquests, get in touch with Farleys Solicitors on 0845 287 0939 or contact us online.