Overturned conviction Honey Rose case: family statement | Suffolk Constabulary

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Overturned conviction Honey Rose case: family statement

Please find the family statement below in response to the Court of Appeal ruling today

Issued July 2017 Joanne & Ian Barker

Appeal Outcome Granted (Conviction overturned) Honey Rose:

We are understandably devastated; we feel that the conviction of manslaughter by gross negligence should have been upheld. We remain in no doubt that if Honey Rose had not breached her duty of care to our son he would still be with us today.

Not only has Vinnie been let down by an individual optometrist, today he has also been failed by the legal system. The ruling or even granting leave to appeal to us makes a mockery of the original verdict and what we believed the justice system to be. The appeal process has not been about whether Honey Rose is guilty. It has been based on the rulings of previous and we feel non-comparable cases and the loopholes they provide to allow a fair conviction to be overturned.

We are hugely aware of the controversy and concern that the case generated. We felt that the gravity of such a conviction helped to protect patients and safeguard the reputation of medical practices and professionals adhering to good practice against those few who breach their duty of care. Instead this case now opens the gates for medical practitioners to operate outside of the standard at which they are required to perform, without full accountability or responsibility to uphold their duty of care. We feel jeopardising patient confidence and the value of attending routine examinations that can detect potentially life-threatening abnormalities, on the basis that it is safer for a practitioner to not conduct, or review relevant tests, as they cannot be held accountable for what they fail to detect if they simply do not bother to investigate at all.

We feel it necessary to clarify firstly; Vinnie’s visit to the opticians on 15 February 2012 was one of annual routine. Our son was and remained asypmtomatic of his underlying condition, appearing to be a normal healthy child up until hours before his death. Secondly that our son’s case was never focusing on a devastating but explainable medical mistake or an incorrect diagnosis of disease. The charge and subsequent verdict was on the fundamental basis that the optometrist failed to perform the core competencies of her job, for no apparent reason.

Finally not only did Honey Rose fail to carry out an examination of the back of Vinnie’s eyes, she choose to falsify our son’s notes, indicating that all findings including those that can only be viewed during an examination of the back of the eye were ‘normal’.

While we appreciate our son had no outward symptoms; that is in fact precisely the reason that Honey Rose’s core duties to examine his eyes needed be complied with. It would have detected the obvious abnormalities and triggered the referral for the life saving surgery he urgently needed, but devastatingly never received.

It has been heart wrenching to listen to a portrayal of lies that our son was photophobic and failed to co-operate, preventing a full examination. The knowledge that we entrusted our son’s care to an optometrist who failed him so badly has impacted hugely on our grief.

We will never accept, that Honey Rose is not guilty, nor understand the lack of accountability for her duty of care to Vinnie. We are unable to comprehend the ability of someone to be continuously dishonest in circumstances where a child has died. We are left simply to question the humanity of such a person.

We have endured five years of harrowing investigations and court proceedings. To be left now, putting our faith in the General Optical Council and their responsibility to uphold the standards of their profession to ensure that Honey Rose is unable to resume any practice in optometry.

Statements following the conviction of Honey Rose - 15/07/2016

Following the conviction of Honey Rose for manslaughter through gross negligence at Ipswich Crown Court this morning, Friday 15 July, the family of Vinnie Barker have asked us to issue the statement below on their behalf.

Vinnie Barker - Media Statement July 2016 – issued on behalf of his father and mother Ian and Joanne Barker and his four siblings.

"The outcome of this case does not change our life sentence; we will never be able to fully accept that our special little boy is never coming home. The void left in our lives will never heal and the ripple effect to those around us is immense. As parents the distress of witnessing your child’s life from start to end in just 8 short years is excruciatingly hard and nonsensical.  The decision of a jury or judge cannot bring Vinnie back or undo the devastation of his death.  A guilty verdict would never make us winners, our loss is simply too great.

"Our main concern has always been the accountability of those we entrust with our own health and the health of those we love.   It is the responsibility of individuals and the organisation they work for to perform their duties to the expected levels of good practice without exception.  The actions of professionals or their failure to act to a standard at which they are required to perform should not go without consequence.

"We have a duty to our son to ensure that his precious and wonderful time with us is celebrated. Once every formality is dealt with, as a family we can then begin to move forward and build something positive in his memory.

"Our intention is not to damage the reputation of optometrists, but actually to raise awareness and promote the health benefits and value of good optometry.  Because, we believe without doubt that if our son had received the duty of care he was owed on 15th February 2012, he would still be with us today.

"Our thoughts as always are with those like us who have experienced the death of a child and the overpowering and overwhelming whirlpool of grief that your life becomes. We know only too well time does not heal the pain. Time just provides a way to begin anticipate and manage the raw emotions that are everlasting.”

Suffolk Police Senior Investigating Officer Detective Superintendent Tonya Antonis said;

"This has been a complex enquiry that initially came into police as the sudden unexplained death of a child. In these circumstances we start a full investigation to understand why that child has died and if we believe there are criminal acts involved we aim to put the facts before a court to bring those responsible to justice.

"During the course of this enquiry we discovered that, in our view, there was a criminal case to answer, leading to Honey Rose being charged.

"However this case was about much more than justice for Vinnie’s family.  

"Whatever the outcome of the trial it was never going to bring Vinnie back and it was never their aim to see Honey Rose imprisoned, they only want to raise awareness of the issue so that something positive can come from his death.

"If this case makes the optometry profession reflect on their practices and review their policies to prevent it happening to anyone again, or encourages other parents to take their children to get their eyes tested with the knowledge that any serious issues would be picked up, then it will be worthwhile.

"Vinnie’s family have been amazing throughout this process. We have been working with them for four years and all they have wanted is for this not to happen to another family. I would like to thank them for their support and pay tribute to their courage.”

Previous release | 26 August 2016

A 35-year-old woman has been given a two year suspended sentence after being found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence following the death of eight-year-old Vinnie Barker.

Honey Rose, who worked as an optometrist, was found guilty following a trial at Ipswich Crown Court in July. She had been charged following a comprehensive investigation into Vinnie’s death in July 2012
She had carried out a routine eye test on Vinnie five months before his death and failed to detect swollen optic discs. The case was brought on the basis that, had she identified the issue, his death would have been preventable.
An extensive investigation was carried out, with expert witnesses consulted and close liaison with the Crown Prosecution Service, to determine the full circumstances of what had happened and whether there was a criminal case to answer. 

Today she has been sentenced to a two-year prison term that has been suspended for two years and has been ordered to carry out 200 hours of community work, with 24 months supervision.

Suffolk Police Senior Investigating Officer Detective Superintendent Tonya Antonis said; "This has been a complex enquiry that initially came into police as the sudden unexplained death of a child. In these circumstances we start a full investigation to understand why that child has died and if we believe there are criminal acts involved we aim to put the facts before a court to bring those responsible to justice.
 
"During the course of this enquiry we discovered that, in our view, there was a criminal case to answer, leading to Honey Rose being charged.
 
"However this case was about much more than justice for Vinnie’s family.  
 
"Whatever the outcome of the trial it was never going to bring Vinnie back and it was never their aim to see Honey Rose imprisoned, they only want to raise awareness of the issue so that something positive can come from his death.
 
"If this case makes the optometry profession reflect on their practices and review their policies to prevent it happening to anyone again, or encourages other parents to take their children to get their eyes tested with the knowledge that any serious issues would be picked up, then it will be worthwhile.
 
"Vinnie’s family have been amazing throughout this process. We have been working with them for four years and all they have wanted is for this not to happen to another family. I would like to thank them for their support and pay tribute to their courage.”

Vinnie’s parents Ian and Joanne Barker, and his four siblings, issued a statement following the guilty verdict;
 
"The outcome of this case does not change our life sentence; we will never be able to fully accept that our special little boy is never coming home. The void left in our lives will never heal and the ripple effect to those around us is immense. As parents the distress of witnessing your child’s life from start to end in just 8 short years is excruciatingly hard and nonsensical.  The decision of a jury or judge cannot bring Vinnie back or undo the devastation of his death.  A guilty verdict would never make us winners, our loss is simply too great.
 
"Our main concern has always been the accountability of those we entrust with our own health and the health of those we love. It is the responsibility of individuals and the organisation they work for to perform their duties to the expected levels of good practice without exception.  The actions of professionals or their failure to act to a standard at which they are required to perform should not go without consequence.

"We have a duty to our son to ensure that his precious and wonderful time with us is celebrated. Once every formality is dealt with, as a family we can then begin to move forward and build something positive in his memory.

"Our intention is not to damage the reputation of optometrists, but actually to raise awareness and promote the health benefits and value of good optometry.  Because, we believe without doubt that if our son had received the duty of care he was owed on 15th February 2012, he would still be with us today.
 
"Our thoughts as always, are with those like us who have experienced the death of a child and the overpowering and overwhelming whirlpool of grief that your life becomes. We know only too well time does not heal the pain. Time just provides a way to begin anticipate and manage the raw emotions that are everlasting.”