Portslade paramedic jailed for lying about dying Brighton patient

Posted On 06 Mar 2010 at 7:28 am

Paramedic Karl Harris has been jailed for a year for lying about why he did not try to treat a dying patient.

Harris, 45, of Tophill Close, Portslade, was called to the cluttered home of 30-stone Barry Baker, 59, just after 4am on 29 November 2008.

The ambulanceman was found guilty at Lewes Crown Court of perverting the course of justice.

He told the court that clutter surrounding reclusive Mr Baker had prevented him and his colleague, Ben Stokes, from moving and resuscitating the dying man.

But he told colleagues that he did not try to resuscitate Mr Baker because he thought that he was already dead.

In a phone call to Brighton Ambulance Station, however, Mr Harris said: “I’m trying to cover my back here really.

“We tried to move this guy but it’s impossible. You’ve never seen clutter like it mate, honestly.

“Police are on the scene but there’s nothing dodgy about the job. We just didn’t try to attempt resuscitation.”

Gillian Jones, defending, said that Harris, a former soldier, had no previous convictions and said that no complaints had previously been made about his professional conduct.

She said that Harris was aware that lying was “a silly and stupid thing to have done”.

Judge Guy Anthony said that Harris had committed a gross breach of trust and made “a clear and deliberate decision to lie” about Mr Baker’s death.

He was told that he must serve at least six months in prison.

In the meantime, a post-mortem examination report said that Mr Baker, of Braybon Avenue, Patcham, died after a cardiac arrest partly caused by his weight and partly because of a thrombosis of his legs.

James Pavey, of South East Coast Ambulance Service, said that Harris had been suspended.

Mr Pavey said that, now the court case was complete, an internal investigation would resume.

Detective Chief Inspector Adam Hibbert, of Sussex Police, said: “This was a tragic and unusual case.

“Sussex Police and the Crown Prosecution Service worked closely with South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAMB) to ensure the full facts were put to the jury.

“We note that in sentencing the judge referred to the clear and compelling nature of the evidence which was presented.”

The coroner for Brighton and Hove is now expected to hold an inquest, although there is no suggestion that Harris caused Mr Baker’s death.

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