Care Home in Bristol Fined £125,000 – A Bristol care facility that failed to take adequate precautions against dangerous patients who could endanger themselves or others was fined.
Following Melissa Mathieson’s death at Alexandra House on October 12, 2014, a thorough investigation and prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have been initiated. After the 18-year-old was slain, Jason Conroy was charged with murder and sentenced to life in prison the next year by the Crown Prosecution Service.
One of three residences managed by Alexandra Homes (Bristol) Limited is Alexandra House on Wells Road in Bristol. It is a licensed residential care facility for adults with autism spectrum disorders and Asperger syndrome that is accredited by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
After moving to the house in August 2014, Melissa from Crawley and Jason from a school in Shropshire were both relatively new residents.
Before coming to Alexandra House, Jason Conroy had left a staff member at his school comatose by strangling her. This episode, along with a few others, demonstrated the importance of close observation.
When Jason reached eighteen, Alexandra House was determined to be an appropriate environment for him. His school sent information to Alexandra House alerting them to his actions. A risk assessment that was part of this stated that he was dangerous to others and that he had acted in a sexually aggressive manner against women.
He could be violent toward others, according to a report, and he could engage in sexually hazardous behavior that could endanger staff members and younger students.
Jason Conroy was given a life sentence and a minimum of 19 years in prison in 2015 for killing Melissa for sexual purposes.
The HSE examination that followed Melissa’s passing discovered that Alexandra House lacked the necessary number of appropriately qualified and trained employees to handle Jason Conroy. Furthermore, they were not given enough information about the risks that he posed. The safety of persons in Alexandra House was not sufficiently ensured, especially during the night, by the inadequate monitoring of him and the lack of control mechanisms in place.
On December 1, Alexandra Homes (Bristol) Limited, located in Kingswood, Bristol, entered a guilty plea at Bristol Crown Court to violating the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. They were sentenced to pay £41,000 and fined £125,000.
“Melissa was a lovely daughter, friendly, loved her cuddles, energetic and fun to be with,” said Melissa’s father, James Mathieson. She was adored by many, and when she was permitted to be killed while sleeping, many hearts were crushed.
“We made it plain to Alexandra Homes representatives how vulnerable Melissa was when she was able to secure housing at Alexandra House. They seemed to overlook the fact that we were entrusting them with her safety.
“They told us they would look after her, she would be safe and they would help her live a full life. That was not true, as they failed on all accounts, and we lost a beautiful daughter, sister, and granddaughter.
“Although Jason Conroy murdered our daughter, I feel he was another failure of Alexandra Homes as he was in the wrong place with the wrong supervision.”
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Caroline Coleman said: “This has been a complex and sensitive investigation. It has taken time, but we now have the right outcome.
“Alexandra Homes was given clear warning signs about Jason Conroy’s behaviour but simply didn’t act upon them. As a result, Melissa Mathieson, a vulnerable young woman lost her life in a setting that was meant to protect and help her.
“While the Care Quality Commission is now the regulator for patient health and safety matters, the legislation is there to help keep people safe and must be followed. Our thoughts remain with Melissa’s family and friends.”
This HSE prosecution was led by HSE lawyer Krystal Savoie.