East Ham optometrist ‘did not see’ key images of boy’s eyes, court told

Honey Rose

Honey Rose - Credit: Archant

An eye expert accused of gross negligence by failing to spot serious abnormalities in the eyes of an eight-year-old schoolboy who later died told police she had not seen photographic images of his eyes which revealed he had a serious problem, Ipswich Crown Court has heard.

Vincent Barker, known as Vinnie, died on July 13, 2012 (Picture: Suffolk Police/PA Wire)

Vincent Barker, known as Vinnie, died on July 13, 2012 (Picture: Suffolk Police/PA Wire) - Credit: PA

During police interviews, optometrist Honey Rose, who was working as a locum at Boots opticians in Upper Brook Street, Ipswich, said she was not trained to take images with a retinal camera and relied on other staff members to do it for her.

She said she would normally be able to view a patient’s retinal images on a screen in the examination room, but that screen was not working.

She claimed she had raised the issue with staff at the branch, but when she had returned as a locum on another occasion the screen still had not been fixed.

Rose, of Milton Avenue, East Ham, told officers that because she did not know how to use the equipment she relied on other members of staff to display retinal images on another screen for her.

When officers showed Rose retinal images taken of eight-year-old Vincent Barker, of Henley Road, Ipswich, who died five months after she examined his eyes on February 15 2012, she claimed she had never seen the images before.

She said if she had seen the images it would have been obvious to her that there were serious abnormalities and she would have immediately made an emergency hospital referral for Vincent, who was known as Vinnie.

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She said images taken the previous year had been normal and it appeared that notes she made on February 15, 2012 could have related to the images taken the previous year.

Asked by police: “Can you think of any reason why you wouldn’t have seen these [the 2012 images] before?” Rose replied: “I don’t know how to operate the system. Someone might have put them on the screen for me.”

She said there were 10 members of staff at the branch and she could not remember who had displayed Vinnie’s images for her on February 15, 2012.

Rose, 35, has denied manslaughter by gross negligence on July 13, 2012.

She allegedly failed to notice “obvious abnormalities” in both Vinnie’s eyes during a routine eye test and he died of hydrocephalus five months later.

Jonathan Rees QC, prosecuting, said: “The prosecution allege that Vinnie’s death was preventable and would have been prevented had the defendant done her job properly.”

He claimed at the time of his examination by Rose on February 15, 2012 there were obvious abnormalities in both Vinnie’s eyes which would have been “obvious to any competent optometrist” who had examined them.

Mr Rees claimed if Vinnie had been urgently referred his medical condition would have been successfully treated.

The trial, which is expected to last at least two weeks, continues.