THE family of a young woman with learning difficulties who drowned in a pool at a Palma special school have vowed to press on with charges against the establishment, after a court cleared three carers of manslaughter.
Relatives of Aina Maria Nicolau are arguing that Mater Misericordia de Palma school failed to keep to the terms of its agreement with Mallorcan social services for running a centre for people with learning disabilities.
The family claim that when 31-year-old Nicolau, who suffered severe learning disabilities, drowned there was only one carer looking after 18 service users.
According to the school’s contract with social services who subsidised the institution, the school should have provided one carer for every five people attending the school.
Three of the carers at the beleaguered school have been cleared of manslaughter, but an appeal made by the family is ongoing.
The prosecution claimed the three employees were guilty of manslaughter and asked for 36 months in jail, but this week the judge disagreed and found the trio not guilty.
Nicolau drowned when she escaped from the patio through an unlocked door into the swimming pool area after an employee accidentally left the door open.
The court heard how the 31-year-old had already snuck into the pool area, earlier in the day but carers failed to record the incident.
The carer who left the door open sent a Whatsapp to other staff informing them of the error and the fact that he had taken the keys off the premises.
There was only one staff member for every six people at the centre on the day that Nicolau died, one less than the minimum agreed in the contract with Mallorca’s social services.
When Nicolau drowned, one of these carers was with a student in a separate area, leaving only a single person to look after 18 of the service users.
The tragic incident is not the first time the special education centre has been embroiled in controversy.
In February, 23-year-old Javier Remirez vanished from the special school, causing a huge overnight police search to be launched.
Remirez, who needed regular medication, was eventually discovered by Guardia Civil officers at dawn.