Clinical Negligence & Catastrophic Injury Solicitors
Two-year suspended sentence for negligent optometrist.
An optometrist who failed to spot an eye condition in an eight-year-old boy who later died has been given a two-year suspended jail sentence. Honey Rose, 35, from Newham, east London, was sentenced after Vincent Barker, known as Vinnie, died in July 2012 after fluid built up on his brain.
She had carried out a routine eye test on the boy five months earlier but missed ‘obvious abnormalities’ in both eyes and jurors at Ipswich Crown Court found her guilty of gross negligence manslaughter.
Sentencing her to a two-year jail sentence, suspended for two years, Judge Jeremy Stuart-Smith said it was the first case of its type.
He also ordered Rose to complete 200 hours of unpaid work and gave her a 24-month supervision order.
During her trial, Rose told the court she conducted all the required tests during Vincent’s eye examination at the Ipswich branch of Boots on 15 February 2012.
But the prosecution alleged her conduct had been so far below the expected standard it was "criminal" and jurors heard that there were "obvious abnormalities" in both of Vincent’s eyes visible during the examination.
Photographs taken by another staff member of the back of his eyes, shortly before he was examined by Rose, suggested he had bilateral papilloedema, a condition in which optic discs at the back of each eye become swollen because of raised pressure within the skull.
Jonathan Rees QC, prosecuting, said this "would have been obvious to any competent optometrist" and should have led to an urgent referral to treat "a life-threatening condition.”
A build-up of fluid on the brain increased pressure in Vincent’s skull and ultimately led to his death.
Rose had claimed her examination of Vincent’s was tricky because he had closed his eyes to the light and looked away during the test.
Rose's barrister, Ian Stern QC, said: "For whatever reason, she did not look at the back of the eye.”
He described Rose's failure to examine the back of Vincent's eyes as an "inexplicable lack of action" and a "one-off".
Sentencing, Judge Stuart-Smith accepted Rose's lack of diagnosis had been a "one-off", but said she had tried to cover up her actions when she found out Vincent had died.
He said Rose had tried to show the boy had not co-operated and demonstrated signs of photophobia when being assessed.
A written statement from Vincent’s mother, Joanne Barker, said: "The knowledge our loss should have been prevented and Vincent’s should have been saved is intolerable to live with."