Charity Charged Over Graduate Death

Failure to ensure safety of employee

02.02.2010

A mental health charity is in the docks, facing charges of failing to protect a university graduate who was killed by a paranoid schizophrenic who stabbed her 39 times during a home visit.

Mental Health Matters is accused of failing to ensure the safety of an employee under the Health and Safety at Work Act, after the death of Ashleigh Ewing who was killed by Ronald Dixon at his home in Newcastle nearly four years ago.

As part of her work with the Sunderland-based charity 22-year-old Miss Ewing, from Hebburn, South Tyneside visited Dixon at his home in Eighth Avenue, Heaton.

The former Hebburn Comprehensive pupil was alone on the last day of her six-month probation when she was attacked.

Dixon, who later admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, stabbed her with four different kitchen knives.

A judge ordered he be detained indefinitely at a secure psychiatric hospital.

Mental Health Matters will go on trial at Newcastle Crown Court.

Copyright © Press Association 2010

David Urpeth from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: “This horrifying fatal work accident identifies the risks faced by workers entering people’s homes.

“As this case is continuing, the circumstances have yet to be decided upon by the court.

“However, generally, employers have a duty to take reasonable steps to ensure workers are provided with a safe place in a safe system of work.  This includes, where appropriately, carrying out risk assessments and providing training and/or equipment to workers who have to enter the homes of third parties.”