Somerset

Amanda Young not guilty of Joshua Gafney manslaughter

Amanda Young
Image caption Amanda Young denied manslaughter by gross negligence

A nurse who gave a patient a lethal overdose of a prescription drug has been found not guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence.

Amanda Young, 40, slumped in the dock at Bristol Crown Court as the verdict was read out.

Joshua Gafney, 22, died after she administered 14 times the dose of anti-psychotic Clozapine in February 2012.

During trial, Ms Young said she had "not seen" details of the drug's strength written on the bottle's label.

Witnesses described the nurse, from Yeovil, Somerset, as "kind and empathetic" and dedicated to her profession.

Image caption Joshua Gafney died in his home after the dose was given to him by Amanda Young

The court was told Mr Gafney was being treated at his home for serious mental health issues.

Ms Young was instructed to give him 6ml - a little more than a teaspoon - of Clozapine to treat paranoid schizophrenia but the court heard she poured six bottles into a glass for him.

Mr Gafney drank the glass, containing 84ml, and was pronounced dead two hours later.

Defence barrister, Elizabeth Marsh QC, had told jurors at least two other nurses had given Mr Gafney similar doses in the days leading up his death.

She described Ms Young's actions as "a mistake by a compassionate and focused nurse".

'System failures'

Mr Gafney's mother, Tina Marren, and his sister Jasmine described him as "gentle, caring and kind with a big heart".

The family said they had "really wanted justice" but the verdict means "no one has been held accountable" three years after his death.

Somerset Partnership NHS Trust, who employed Amanda Young, has not apologised or accepted responsibility for Josh's death, they added.

The family's solicitor called on the trust to review its systems and an earlier internal investigation to ensure the mistake is not repeated.

"In her defence, Amanda Young said her job was made more difficult because of the way the trust ran the home treatment team," said Mike Bird, a partner at Foot Anstey.

"The question that comes to mind is whether, at the time of Joshua's death, there were system failures within the Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust which contributed to the tragic outcome."

Responding, Edward Colgan, chief executive of Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, offered the trust's "sincere condolences and again our apologies" for the family's "tragic loss".

He said disciplinary proceedings were conducted for the three nurses employed by the trust. Two were dismissed and a third nurse resigned.

Mr Colgan said the Trust's internal investigation and an independently-chaired review "identified learning and improvements".

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