Care home firm fined £80,000 over Bawsey Pits tragedy

People paddling in the water and sunbathing at Bawsey Pits.
People paddling in the water and sunbathing at Bawsey Pits.

A care home operator has today been fined £80,000 over the death of a boy in its care at a West Norfolk beauty spot.

Health and safety investigators said the death of Umar Balogun was “entirely preventable” if proper procedures had been in place at the home where he was living.

Umar, 16, drowned at Bawsey Pits almost four years ago, while on a day trip from the Cambridgeshire care home he was staying at.

The home’s operator, Castle Homes Limited, admitted breaching health and safety legislation during a hearing at the Old Bailey earlier this month.

Today, the firm, of High Street, Rothwell, Kettering, was fined £80,000 for the offence and told to pay £20,000 in costs.

Anthony Brookes, an inspector for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), said after the hearing: “This boy’s tragic death was entirely preventable if the care home had planned properly and managed the risk of taking residents to the abandoned quarry.”

Umar had gone to Bawsey Pits on July 16, 2013, with another resident of the Castle Lodge home, near Ely, and two members of company staff.

Both boys went into the water, despite signs warning visitors not to swim there.

An HSE investigation found the workers who accompanied the boys were inexperienced and did not try to stop them from going into the water.

It also concluded that no risk assessment had been conducted and the company’s procedures for ensuring the safety of young people in their care when outside the home environment were inadequate.

However, the staff members who accompanied Umar on the trip were cleared of failing to take reasonable care of the boys’ health and safety following a trial at Lynn Crown Court in January.