Optical consultant at Boots tells jury she did not experience problems saving eye images as optometrist stands trial over death of boy, eight

Honey Rose

Honey Rose - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

A staff member at an Ipswich opticians where an expert allegedly failed to spot abnormalities in the eyes of an eight-year-old boy who later died, told a court she didn’t recall any problems with saving images taken by a special eye camera.

Vincent Barker, known as Vinnie, died on July 13, 2012

Vincent Barker, known as Vinnie, died on July 13, 2012 - Credit: PA

Giving evidence on the second day of the trial of locum optometrist Honey Rose, Carol Cocker who was an optical consultant at Boots opticians in Upper Brook Street, said she recalled a couple of occasions when the retinal camera hadn’t worked in a period of three years.

However she did not remember any problems with saving images on computer equipment linked to the camera.

Mrs Cocker told a jury at Ipswich Crown Court that said she was working at the Upper Brook Street branch in February 2012 when eight-year-old Vincent Barker, known as Vinnie, was brought in with his sister by their mother Joanne for routine eye tests - but she couldn’t recall if she took Vinnie’s retinal images on the day in question.

She said although she wasn’t trained to spot abnormalities on the retinal images, if she saw something she was concerned about she would draw it to the optometrist’s attention.

Rose, 35, of London, 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 five months later from hydrocephalus.

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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 that 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 that if Vinnie, of Henley Road, Ipswich, had been urgently referred his medical condition would have been identified and successfully treated.

“This would have prevented him from dying on July 13 2012 and he would have continued to enjoy a normal life as a young boy,” he alleged.

“At the heart of the prosecution case is the allegation that the defendant’s failure to detect the swollen optic discs and refer Vinnie for further investigation was grossly negligent on her part,” said Mr Rees.

Prior to being examined by Rose in February 2012 Vinnie had previously been examined in January 2010 and February 2011 by different optometrists and nothing untoward had been found.

Following his death an expert viewed a disc containing retinal images that had been taken of the back of each of Vinnie’s eyes during the examination in February 2011 and February 2012.

“In his opinion the second set of images were clearly abnormal and would give rise to the need for immediate intervention and urgent referral to hospital,” said Mr Rees.

The court heard that when Rose was shown the retinal images taken of Vinnie on February 15 2012 during police interviews she said they weren’t the ones shown to her because they showed a problem which would have caused her to make an emergency referral.

She had also said she wasn’t sure how to use the retinal photography equipment at the branch and when she asked for help she hadn’t really been shown how to use it.

She also said there had been an issue with equipment at the branch which prevented her viewing retinal images on a computer screen in the examination room because it wasn’t connected to the system.

“She said she had twice previously complained to the branch about this problem but they didn’t pay attention,” said Mr Rees.

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