Rugby care home nurse accused of neglecting elderly resident faces retrial after jury could not reach a verdict

A Rugby care home nurse accused of neglecting an elderly resident who died three weeks after being taken to hospital will have to stand trial for a second time.

Tuesday, 3rd December 2019, 11:28 am
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Catalina Ferchiu had pleaded not guilty to the ‘wilful neglect’ of 87-year-old stroke victim Rachel Smith at the Overslade House Care Home in Overslade Road, Rugby.

During a trial at Warwick Crown Court it was said that Mrs Smith had ‘looked like death’ when other staff members took over her care after Ferchiu had finished her night shift.

They called for an ambulance to take her to hospital, where she died three weeks later – although it was stressed that was not linked to Ferchiu’s alleged neglect of her.

After deliberating for a total of eight hours and 53 minutes the jury, who had asked the judge for definitions of ‘wilful’ and ‘reckless,’ said they were unable to reach even a majority verdict on which at least ten of them agreed.

So Judge Peter Cooke discharged the jury of ten women and two men, and was told by prosecutor Peter Grieves-Smith: “We will seek a retrial.”

The case was adjourned for that to take place on a date to be fixed, and Ferchiu (54) of St Marks Court, Pool Close, Rugby, was granted bail.

During the trial Mr Grieves-Smith had said Mrs Smith had been a resident at the Overslade House Care Home, where Ferchiu had worked for 13 years, since suffering a stroke in October 2016.

Although she was paralysed down the right side of her body and had limited ability to communicate, she still retained ‘full mental ability.’

On the night of February 1 Ferchiu, an experienced nurse who was registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council, was the senior nurse on duty in what was known as the home’s ‘new unit.’

“At about 7.30 in the morning on the 2nd of February Catalina Ferchiu finished her shift and told those who took over that Rachel Smith had been sick during the night and had a bruise.

“They went to her room and found her in a very poor condition. There was a large bruise to her shoulder, and her face was grey. ‘She looked like death, lifeless,’ was the view of one of the nurses.”

An ambulance was called, and Mrs Smith was taken to hospital where she died on February 23, said Mr Grieves-Smith, who told the jury there was no evidence of how the bruise was caused.

He argued that Ferchiu should have sought help for Mrs Smith when she had checked on her at 4am and found she had vomited and noticed the bruise and should have monitored her more closely after that.

But he stressed: “We do not say that neglect caused death, or there would have been a much more serious charge on the indictment.”

Ferchiu, who told the jury she had been a nurse for 35 years and at Overslade House for 13 years since coming to the UK from Romania, said Mrs Smith had been prone to bruising.

“We would not have just called a GP every time there was a bruise on her, because it was part of her condition.”

Ferchiu, giving evidence with the help of a Romanian interpreter, said that after cleaning up Mrs Smith after she had vomited, she had ‘checked on this lady every 15 to 20 minutes.’

Asked why she had not called 111 or got a doctor to look at Mrs Smith straight away, she replied: “I used my clinical judgement that nothing was required at that time.

“There was nothing to worry me about her condition, and I kept a regular check on her.”