Friday 9 December 2016

Eye specialist accused over 'preventable' death of eight-year-old boy

Catherine Wylie

Published 05/07/2016 | 10:52

Vincent Barker, known as Vinnie, died on July 13 2012 - around five months after he was taken to have a routine eye test at Boots the Opticians in Upper Brook Street in Ipswich, Suffolk Credit: Suffolk Police/PA Wire
Vincent Barker, known as Vinnie, died on July 13 2012 - around five months after he was taken to have a routine eye test at Boots the Opticians in Upper Brook Street in Ipswich, Suffolk Credit: Suffolk Police/PA Wire

The death of an eight-year-old boy could have been prevented if an eye specialist had "done her job properly", a court has heard.

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Vincent Barker, known as Vinnie, died on July 13 2012 - around five months after he was taken to have a routine eye test at Boots the Opticians in Upper Brook Street in Ipswich, Suffolk.

The conduct of locum optometrist Honey Rose, 35, fell so far below the standards expected that it was "criminal", prosecutor Jonathan Rees QC said.

Rose, from Newham, east London, is charged with gross negligence manslaughter.

Mr Rees told Ipswich Crown Court: "The prosecution allege that Vinnie's death was preventable and would have been prevented had the defendant, Ms Rose, done her job properly."

Jurors heard that post-mortem examinations showed the cause of death was hydrocephalus - a build-up of fluid in the brain which led to an increase in pressure within his skull and, ultimately, his collapse and death.

They were told that Rose owed a duty of care to her patients and this included a duty to carry out a competent examination of the eye and a duty to make an urgent referral if any injury or disease was detected.

Mr Rees said: "At the heart of the prosecution case against the defendant is the allegation that the defendant's failure to detect the swollen optic discs and refer Vinnie on for further investigation was grossly negligent - key phrase in this case - on her part."

He added: "Given the risk of death involved, her conduct was so bad in all of the circumstances - it fell so far below the standards to be expected of a competent optometrist - that it was criminal."

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