‘Unlawful killing’ verdict as woman (89) dies after row at Burnley nursing home

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AN elderly woman died after being pushed or punched in the chest by a fellow resident at the Burnley nursing home where they both lived.

Mrs Helen Noreen Patrick (89), known as Noreen, died on February 10th after an incident at the Grove Care Home, Rosegrove.

An inquest at Burnley Coroner’s Court heard Mrs Patrick, who suffered from dementia and walked with a walking frame, had a heated exchange with a resident, who suffered from severe Alzheimer’s dementia.

During the argument the resident pushed or punched Mrs Patrick, who was 4ft. 9in. tall and weighed 6st. 11lb. to the chest, knocking her to the floor.

She cried out in pain and carers called an ambulance. Mrs Patrick was rushed to the Royal Blackburn Hospital where she later died.

A post-mortem examination revealed she had severe fractures to the base of her spine.

Recording a verdict of unlawful killing, East Lancashire Coroner Mr Richard Taylor said: “This is a tragic death that I concede from the evidence I have heard, those at The Grove could not have predicted.

“Mrs Patrick, who had been a resident for some considerable time, had unpredictable moods but those moods were generally taken out on staff rather than other residents.

“On February 10th she was clearly in one of her moods and was muttering to herself. It appears the other resident took exception and either pushed or punched Mrs Patrick to the chest.”

Pathologist Dr Naomi Carter said a fat embolism in Mrs Patrick’s lungs, triggered by the fractures to her spine, caused her death. She said vascular dementia was a contributory factor.

Workers at the home described how the women had become involved in a heated exchange, which did not make sense, before Mrs Patrick fell.

Registered nurse Judith Edwards said it was not clear whether Mrs Patrick had been punched or pushed but said: “It was quite forceful. It took her right off her feet.”

Mr Taylor added: “The other resident would have had no knowledge, no understanding and no recall of her actions and this was undoubtedly a manifestation of her own condition.

“However, given the law, I have little alternative but to record a verdict of unlawful killing.”