NHS nurse accused of manslaughter appears in court after 2015 death of woman in his care

Benjamin Aninakwa, of Chadwell St Mary, indicated a not guilty plea to gross negligence manslaughter of Alice Figueiredo at Barkingside Magistrates’ Court today, reports Josh Mellor, Local Democracy Reporter

Alice Figueiredo died while a patient at Goodmayes Hospital in 2015, Credit: Family of Alice Figueiredo

An NHS nurse appeared in court today accused of manslaughter for the death of a young woman on a hospital ward he managed eight years ago.

Benjamin Aninakwa, 52, was manager of an acute psychiatric ward at Goodmayes Hospital, where Alice Figueiredo, 22, died on 7th July 2015.

Following a lengthy investigation by the Metropolitan Police, Aninakwa has been charged with gross negligence manslaughter and an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

The NHS trust which manages Goodmayes Hospital, North East London Foundation Trust (NELFT), appeared at court earlier this week to face a charge of corporate manslaughter.

NELFT provides mental health care for residents in the London boroughs of Waltham Forest, Redbridge, Barking & Dagenham, and Havering.

At today’s hearing at Barkingside Magistrates’ Court, Aninakwa stood in the dock wearing a pink shirt and spoke only to confirm his identity.

Aninakwa, of Chadwell St Mary, indicated not guilty pleas to gross negligence manslaughter and an offence under section seven of the Health and Safety at Work Act, which covers an employee’s duty to protect people from risk.

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Alice’s parents Max and Jane Figueiredo also attended the court hearing.

Aninakwa has remained a NELFT employee and is currently head of its patient safety and investigation team.

According to court documents, the trust is accused of “failing to remove a bin liner” from the acute psychiatric ward Alice was a patient on, despite the item being identified as a risk on 18 previous occasions.

The written charge for corporate manslaughter says this risk had been repeatedly “recorded on hospital notes” and discussed by staff.

It adds that the conduct of the trust’s senior management was a “substantial element” in the failure, which was a “gross breach” of its duty of care.

Aninakwa is next due to appear alongside NELFT at the Old Bailey on 1st November for a plea and trial preparation hearing.

Mr Aninakwa leaving Barkingside Magistrates’ Court today (6th October), Credit: LDRS

The Metropolitan Police investigated Alice’s death for six years before passing a file of evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in 2021.

The CPS considered the evidence for a further two years before authorising charges last month.

NELFT, which faces charges of corporate manslaughter or an offence under Section three of the Health and Safety at Work Act, covering an employer’s duty to protect people from risk, has not entered a plea.

Aninakwa has been bailed ahead of the next hearing.

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