Page last updated at 16:27 GMT, Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Lie accused paramedic - 'impossible to move dying man'

Karl Harris
Mr Harris was suspended from his job after the death of Mr Baker

A paramedic accused of failing to attempt resuscitation on a 30-stone man told a court the patient "looked dead".

Karl Harris, 45, told jurors it was "physically impossible" to help 59-year-old Barry Baker after he collapsed at home in Brighton, East Sussex.

Mr Baker dialled 999 at 0414 GMT on 29 November 2008 after experiencing breathing difficulties. He died after suffering cardiopulmonary arrest.

At Lewes Crown Court, Mr Harris denies perverting the course of justice.

Prosecutors allege Mr Harris told his colleague Ben Stokes not to bother resuscitating Mr Baker and that he told a series of lies to cover his tracks.

Mr Harris denies the allegations.

He told the court Mr Stokes had entered the property first and, just before walking inside, Mr Harris said he heard a loud thump, possibly of Mr Baker collapsing.

'Worst smells'

He said he had had to use his torch to find Mr Baker, who was surrounded by clutter.

He said: "He was slumped up against the wall. He had his head up against his chin. He looked dead by that time."

When asked by defence counsel Gillian Jones to describe the property, Mr Harris said: "All the worst smells that you could ever imagine in one go.

"Plus, with the gas and the heat hitting you in the face, it would make you choke as you walked through the door.

"I honestly thought it was going to explode, there was so much gas.

"There was no room to move at all. It would have been physically impossible to get to him in the position he was in."

It was such an unusual, bizarre set of circumstances. There was so much going on. We did everything we could.
Karl Harris, defendant

Mr Harris said the patient had turned blue, adding: "I honestly believed he was dead at that time."

The defendant told the court that an automatic defibrillator was used on the patient which revealed there was no activity in the Mr Baker's heart. By this time 15 minutes had elapsed.

When asked by Ms Jones whether he had advised his less-experienced colleague not to attempt resuscitation, Mr Harris said: "No, I wouldn't have said that. I may have said 'I don't think it's viable'.

"It was such an unusual, bizarre set of circumstances. There was so much going on. We did everything we could."

Jurors also heard a recording of a telephone call made by Mr Harris to the ambulance station in Brighton in which he 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."

Mr Harris, of Tophill Close, Portslade, was suspended from his job at South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Trust following Mr Baker's death.

No charges were brought against Mr Stokes but the ambulance trust placed him on restricted practice following the incident.

The case continues.

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