LONDON: An India-born woman optometrist in the UK was today handed down a two-year suspended jail term for failing to spot a life-threatening eye infection in an eight-year-old boy who later died.
Honey Rose, 35, a mother-of-three, had performed a routine eye test on Vincent Barker in February 2012 but failed to spot a life-threatening condition, resulting in his death five months later.
He had denied charges of gross negligence amounting to manslaughter but was found guilty after a trial at Ipswich Crown Court here.
The prosecution claimed her conduct had been so far below the expected standard it was “criminal”.
Sentencing Rose, Judge Jeremy Stuart-Smith said it was the first case of its type and ordered her to complete 200 hours of unpaid work and gave her a 24-month supervision order.
A suspended jail term in the UK refers to a deferred custodial sentence on strict conditions.
The judge told her, “You simply departed from your normal practice in a way that was completely untypical for you, a one-off, for no good reason”.
Detective Superintendent Tonya Antonis of Suffolk Police, said the sentence was “proportionate in the circumstances”.
“It was never the Barker family’s intention that Honey Rose should go to prison,” she said.
The victim’s mother Joanne Barker said the family had struggled to accept Vincent’s death and the impact on his siblings had been “immeasurable”.
“The knowledge our loss should have been prevented and Vinnie should have been saved is intolerable to live with,” Barker said in a statement.
The jury was told there were “obvious abnormalities” in both of Vinnie’s eyes visible during the examination. A build-up of fluid on the brain increased pressure in Vinnie’s skull and ultimately led to his death.
Rose had claimed her examination of Vinnie was tricky because he had closed his eyes to the light and looked away during the test.