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Anger over lack of charges


  • Anger over lack of charges

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    The mother of a disabled Palmerston North boy who drowned in a bath while in respite care is "furious" criminal charges are not being laid against staff.
    Nathan Booker, 15, was found submerged in a bath at the , run by Idea Services - a subsidiary of IHC New Zealand, in January.

    An ambulance was called and he was taken to the Palmerston North Hospital's intensive-care unit. He was taken off life support and pronounced dead later that night. This week police announced they would not be laying criminal charges against anyone at the centre - infuriating Nathan's mother, Angela Middlemiss.

    "I've known since February, [police] sat me down and talked to me and my children and we weren't happy then," she said. "I'm furious the police aren't charging them with negligence causing death or manslaughter."
    Middlemiss said police told her there were "loopholes" at Woburn that meant staff would not face charges.
    "I got a care plan and I said he has to be supervised in the bath, and it says that in a booklet somewhere, but apparently it doesn't on the wall by the bath," she said. "I'm black and white, you don't leave children unattended in the bath - they walked out."

    Middlemiss said she told police of a previous case in New Zealand with a strikingly similar background to Nathan's, but over which criminal charges had been laid.In 2010, caregiver Tuimatamoana Samita pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Kathleen Hesse, who had cerebral palsy and was left in the bath at a respite centre in Auckland.

    Justice Timothy Brewer described the death as "criminal negligence" and sentenced Hesse to 400 hours community service. "It's degrading to my son and doesn't give me any trust in the police because we were hoping for charges," Middlemiss said. "I don't think police understand disability. They look at it as a criminal case but disability needs to be understood."

    Middlemiss said IHC had kept her in the loop about their investigation, but she had been forced to go back to work to repay funeral costs. "I just want justice because he was 15, it was unfair for him," she said.
    "I'm still struggling to come to terms with it." Crown agency Worksafe NZ is still completing its investigation to determine whether charges will be laid against the organisation.

    Police could not be reached for comment, but last week said: "We have fully informed the young man's family of the outcome and are now in the position of providing our completed investigation to the coroner, who will determine matters around the inquest."

    Last week, IHC programmes general manager Janine Stewart said the organisation had not received confirmation of the outcomes from the police and Worksafe investigations, which limited what information could be provided.However, an internal investigation had been completed, she said.
    "As a result of the recommendations we have received from our investigations, an action plan has been put in place," she said.

    "This includes further training and reorientation for staff. Disciplinary action in relation to staff has been completed." She did not say what that disciplinary action was. Stewart said IHC endeavored to keep the family of Nathan Booker informed of the various investigations which had taken place since Nathan's death.

    Middlemiss has created a Givealittle page to help fundraise for the unveiling of her son's headstone next month:

    Credit :Stuff
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