A man died as a result of a brain injury that he received when he was pushed from his wheelchair 11 years earlier, an inquest has heard. Stevie Dainton was left ‘profoundly disabled’ after the incident at Bolton’s Birtenshaw Hall School in May 2009.
Stevie was born with cerebral palsy and used a wheelchair to get around, his dad Gary Dainton told Bolton Coroner’s Court. Mr Dainton described Stevie as “very pleasant, outgoing and happy” growing up and said that he lived at home but would occasionally stay overnight at Birtenshaw, in Bromley Cross, if he had attended an after school club.
On May 5, 2009, a fellow pupil, referred to as Boy 2 in court, pushed Stevie from his wheelchair. Stevie, who was 19-years-old at the time, suffered a traumatic brain injury and required 24 hour care from that point on.
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Detective Inspector Philip Housley, of Greater Manchester Police, told the inquest that no criminal proceedings were brought in relation to the incident because of Boy B’s mental disability. Mr Dainton added that he didn’t blame Boy 2 because: “He himself was severely disabled” but instead blamed the school itself for “lack of risk assessment and supervision”.
Mr Dainton and Stevie’s GP Dr Sara Jaberansari confirmed that over the next 11 years, he was constantly in and out of hospital with serious infections.
In May 2020, Stevie was admitted to the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary with pseudomembranous colitis – a swelling of the colon due to an overgrowth of C difficile bacteria. Dr Jabernasari admitted that this can be caused by long-term use of antibiotics but said that these were given to Stevie to try and reduce the number of serious infections that she suffered with her.
Stevie, who lived with his dad in Hindley, seemed to be making a good recovery and was due to be discharged but Mr Dainton asked for him to be kept for an extra day for observation. The following day, Stevie died aged 29.
Following a post mortem, Dr Daniel Du Plessis found that Stevie died from aspiration related cardiac respiratory arrest, caused by psuedomembraneous colitis and old traumatic brain injuries. Dr Du Plessis recorded Stevie’s cerebral palsy as an underlying contributory factor but told the court: “I don’t think he would have died when he did if he didn’t sustain those serious brain injuries.”
Dr Jabernasari agreed with Dr Du Plessis’ findings and added: “I would say the brain injury reduced his life expectancy and quality of life.”
The Birtenshaw Group was represented at the hearing by chief executive David Reid. Mr Reid told the inquest that the children’s home had not been made fully aware of Boy 2’s temprament when social services asked for him to be placed there.
He said: “I think we could and should have had clearer information from the authority. Had we received that, I think it’s unlikely that he’d be admitted to the service.”
Mr Reid admitted that staff numbers and lack of training given to staff at the time may have also contributed to the incident.
He added: “In hindsight, I think the registered manager should have taken more care about the number and mixture of staff on duty at the time. In hindsight, staff should have had more training in dealing with behavior exhibited by Boy 2.”
Mr Reid told the hearing that since 2009, there have been a lot of changes in children’s homes in areas such as the mixing of children with different disabilities. I have added that there is now a greater focus on ‘quality standards’.
Mr Dainton, who gave up his business to be a full time carer for Stevie following the incident, said: “He would have been alive today had proper risk assessments been done prior to the placement of the pupil who attacked Stevie.
“The incident was entirely predictable and in truth, probably avoidable.”
Assistant coroner for Manchester West, Rachel Syed recorded a narrative conclusion in relation to Stevie’s death. She said: “The deceased died as a consequence of traumatic brain injuries after being pushed from his wheelchair.”
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