Richard Copnall instructed to represent the family in the Inquest of Matthew Dale
26 January 2023

Richard Copnall instructed to represent the family in the Inquest of Matthew Dale

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Parklane Plowden’s Richard Copnall represented the family of a servilely disabled man who choked to death on his own incontinence pad.

Matthew Dale, 43, was found dead at Vancouver House on Vancouver Road, Netherley, at around 11.50 pm on December 27, 2020.

The severely disabled man choked to death on his own incontinence pad in the communal dining area. Although the NHS commissioners intended that he received one-to-one whilst awake, the care home only provided one check an hour after 8pm. The coroner found that this had been as a result of a misunderstanding between the commissioners and the care home.

Matthew had severe learning difficulties and autism he was blind in one eye and partially sighted in the other. He lacked capacity and was subject to DOLS. He was non-verbal and required round-the-clock care.

The inquest into Matthew’s death started on the 18 January 2023 and concluded on the 25 January 2023. The inquest considered issues regarding funding, placement, risk assessments and the events which led to Matthew choking and the emergency response.

Parklane Plowden’s Richard Copnall argued that the failures in Mr Dale's care amounted to neglect, and that both the care home and commissioners had breached Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights - the right to life - both operationally and systematically.

Mr Copnall said "There are two potential failures which are capable of amounting to negligence. The first is the absence of any system to prevent Matthew having access to his pad, such as the system used by his parents when he was living with them. The second is that Matthew was left alone, unsupervised at the time he put the fatal pad in his mouth.”

At his inquest on Wednesday, January 25, Coroner Kate Ainge found Matthew died by misadventure, contributed to by a missed opportunity to identify his needs and indicated that she was considering issuing a prevention of future death report to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

After Matthew’s death, Vancouver House was placed under investigation by Liverpool City Council. In 2021 It was rated "inadequate" by the CQC and was later shut down by its owners, the Priory Group, which cited "significant staffing challenges".

Richard Copnall was instructed by Gareth Naylor of Ison Harrison Solicitors.

You can read the full story here.