Care provider court sentence delayed amid asset value dispute

Pine Heath nursing home in High Kelling

Diamond Care (UK) Limited, which ran Pine Heath care home, in High Kelling, was in court on Thursday, charged with failing in its duty to provide safe care and treatment at the home in 2016. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press

A care home operator has been told to get a true valuation of its assets after a judge told the business its £500,000 evaluation of a building previously estimated to be worth £2.9m was "eyebrow-raising."

Diamond Care (UK) Limited, which ran Pine Heath care home, in High Kelling, up until it closed in May 2017 was in court on Thursday, charged with failing in its duty to provide safe care and treatment at the home in 2016.

The offence, which the company has pleaded guilty to, dates back to November 2016 and the maintenance of the care home's boilers, the failure of which meant residents were exposed to avoidable harm including five who developed mild hyperthermia.

Appearing at Colchester Magistrates Court on July 22, district judge Timothy King told Diamond Care (UK) Ltd that he was unable to sentence the company for the offence due to the lack of financial information, including accounts that had been provided to the court.

He also said the evaluation of Pine Heath as being worth £500,000 when it was listed as a £2.9m asset in accounts needed readdressing.

District Judge King said: "I do not accept the information before me and the difference between the accounts of £2.9m and the evaluation of £475,000 that's a £2.5m difference, that's a massive range for a property of that size."

He said taking into account that the property had been left in a state of disrepair a difference of £10,000 - £30,000 would be acceptable but the court was being asked to accept a difference of more than £2m.

"I have to raise an eyebrow about what is being said or being put in that decision," the district judge said.

In order to properly sentence Diamond Care (UK) Limited, he asked the company to supply a new, more accurate valuation of Pine Heath carried out by a local estate agent, and accounts for the company.

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He also asked the Care Quality Commission to provide information on whether Pine Heath was accepting new residents at the time of the offence, how much residents were paying to be at the home and how much a replacement boiler system for the property would have cost.

The case has been adjourned until September 30 2021.

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