Page last updated at 17:48 GMT, Thursday, 25 February 2010

Brighton paramedic 'did not resuscitate dying man'

Karl Harris
Karl Harris has been suspended from work

A paramedic refused to resuscitate a patient and then told a series of lies to cover his tracks, a court was told.

Karl Harris told a colleague there was "no point" resuscitating Barry Baker after they were called to his home in Brighton, East Sussex, jurors heard.

Mr Baker, 59, dialled 999 and died after suffering a cardiac arrest in November 2008, Lewes Crown Court heard.

Mr Harris, 45, of Tophill Close, Portslade, East Sussex, denies perverting the course of justice.

The court heard Mr Baker dialled 999 after experiencing breathing difficulties in the early hours of 29 November.

'Too heavy'

Within two minutes of Mr Harris and trainee technician Ben Stokes arriving at the scene the patient collapsed.

Prosecutor Richard Barton said unknown to the paramedics the phone operator stayed on the line and heard they did not make a resuscitation attempt.

Giving evidence Mr Stokes said Mr Harris told him: "He's dead. I've seen this before. Don't bother [with resuscitation]."

He told jurors Mr Harris gave him a number of justifications for not taking any further action, such as that he was too heavy for them to lift.

Karl Harris didn't act in accordance with his qualifications and his experience.
Richard Barton, prosecutor

Mr Harris also insisted "more than once" it would be fine just to say the patient had already died, Mr Stokes said.

Prosecutor Mr Barton said the pair had never worked together before and it was Mr Harris, as the senior worker, who made all the decisions during the call out.

Mr Barton said: "Karl Harris didn't act in accordance with his qualifications and his experience.

"He told lies to the police officers, and repeated those lies to his bosses that night and went on to falsify paperwork in order to cover up what he had done."

Barry Baker
Barry Baker weighed about 30 stone

Mr Barton said it was not alleged Mr Harris caused Mr Baker's death, as medical evidence suggested he would not have survived.

But added: "This defendant simply could not have known that at the time and by this conduct he was effectively extinguishing any last chance of survival."

Guidelines applying to ambulance clinicians state that "vigorous resuscitation attempts must be undertaken whenever there is a chance of survival, however remote," the court was told.

Mr Barton said: "This defendant was fully aware of this. On that night, he ignored all training and all of his experience and he made a snap decision.

"That snap decision was that Barry Baker was already dead and so he would not try to resuscitate him."

The court heard Mr Baker's weight, about 30 stone (190.5Kg) combined with thrombosis of the legs led to his death.

Mr Harris was suspended from his role at South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Trust following Mr Baker's death.

The trial continues.

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