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Hampshire police failed to help dying grandmother Marion Jones at her home in Milford-On-Sea
POLICE failed to help a grandmother who made a 999 call as she lay dying in her own home, an inquest heard.
Profoundly deaf Marion Jones had fallen at her home but had managed to make the emergency call.
However, due to her disability, the 89-year-old was not able to respond to the control room operator.
Southampton Coroner’s Court was told that an officer was dispatched to investigate and arrived at Mrs Jones’ home in Milford on Sea just before 11pm, around 20 minutes after the call was made.
After getting no response at the door, the constable made no further inquiries and left.
Five days later, a neighbour called Hampshire police concerned at not having seen Mrs Jones, known as Moira, for a number of days and having noticed the elderly woman’s post beginning to pile up.
When officers responded on October 13 they entered the back garden of the Lucerne Road property and saw Mrs Jones lying on the floor of her living room through a window.
In court Det Sgt Tim Chappell told Mrs Jones’ son how the force had failed his mother and that as a result the officer had been disciplined and extra training given to frontline officers.
Det Sgt Chappell from the professional standards department, the department which investigates the conduct of its own officers, admitted that the initial police response was inadequate. He said: “After I had finished my inquiries I was quite happy that the officer had not done what he should have done and he had committed a misconduct offence for not doing enough at the scene.
“He didn’t knock on any doors, he didn’t go around the back of the house and he left.
“At the misconduct hearing it was pointed out to him quite clearly what he didn’t do and what he should have done.”
The inquest heard that during the misconduct hearing the officer said the reason for his lack of inquiries with neighbours was due to the late hour and he did not want to disturb them as it appeared to be a neighbourhood in which elderly people resided.
The officer was disciplined by way of being given management advice, something that will remain on his personnel file, the inquest was told.
The inquest was not told whether Mrs Jones might have survived her injuries if she had been found on the night she made the emergency call.
Pathologist Jeffery Theaker said that Mrs Jones had suffered a haemorrhage in her abdomen as a result of fracturing her pelvis. He said that the significant injury could have resulted in the body going into shock or into a coma quickly.
Speaking at the inquest Mrs Jones’ son Robert Jones, who is a Baptist church minister in Dorset, said he appreciated the force being so open about their failings. He said: “I am more concerned that there is a good outcome in terms of knowledge rather than retribution, that is my concern.”
Coroner Keith Wiseman recorded a verdict of accidental death.
Age Concern Hampshire director Rick Smith said the case highlighted a wider issue of elderly people suffering isolation and loneliness.
“Really there should be a call to arms to ensure older people do not feel isolated and alone, as perhaps this would not have been an issue in the first place,” he told the Daily Echo.
“It is always good when tragic incidents happen that lessons are learned, when organisations admit they should have done more. But of course we would all rather they did not happen in the first place.”
The neighbour who raised the alarm described the police’s initial response as “disgraceful”, before adding: “I don’t understand how they didn’t even go over the gates to the back garden to have a look.”
Another neighbour said she was “horrified” at the thought that her neighbour had called for help as she was lying in pain.
“I don’t suppose it is possible to know whether she could have been helped, but obviously she was conscious enough to make the call at that time,” she added.
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