A LIFT engineer has been cleared after he was charged with breaching health and safety rules which caused the death of a 92-year-old woman in Whitley Bay.
Elizabeth Young was a resident at Heathdale care home, where she fell down a lift shaft from the second floor and died of her injuries.
Sixty-year-old Paul Thompson, of Hayleazes Road in Newcastle, had been working on the lift two days before her death in September 2010.
He was accused of not locking the lift door on the floor where Mrs Young lived.
During a trial at Newcastle Crown Court, the engineer denied even going on to that floor when he attended the home.
And the jury cleared him by a unanimous verdict of any wrongdoing after three hours of deliberation.
When the not guilty verdict was read out, the defendant breathed a sigh of relief and mouthed ‘thank you’ to the jury.
The company he worked for, Derwent Lift Service Limited, also faced health and safety charges.
It was found guilty of not carrying out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment.
But it was cleared of three other health and safety breaches.
The company will be sentenced next year for failing to carry out the risk assessment.
Speaking after the case, a spokesperson for North Tyneside Council, said: “We conducted a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mrs Young’s death and strongly believe the evidence we gathered justified a prosecution.
“Although we are disappointed with today’s outcome, we respect the court’s decision.
“We note that the court found the company failed to carry out an adequate risk assessment.
“Such measures are always important, but even more so in situations where there are older and vulnerable residents.
“Mrs Young should clearly not have died in such tragic and avoidable circumstances.
“We recognise that this verdict will not provide her family with the closure they sought.”