A REGISTERED nurse has appeared in court charged with four counts of murder after a fatal fire at a nursing home in Sydney’s west. A fifth victim died in hospital today.
UPDATE TODAY 21/11/11 2.26PM
AN 82-year-old man has become the seventh person to die following the fatal Sydney nursing home fire.
Police say Ceasar Galea died at Hawkesbury Hospital at 8.20am (AEDT) today.
Three residents, including 73-year-old Alma Smith, died at the scene of the fire, which tore through the facility on Hambledon Rd, Quakers Hill, early on Friday morning.
On Friday afternoon Lola Bennett, 86, died at Royal North Shore Hospital, while Ella Wood, 97, died at Concord Repatriation General Hospital on Saturday morning.
A 79-year-old woman died at 9.30am (AEDT) yesterday in Liverpool Hospital, police said.
Roger Dean, 35, a registered nurse who worked for a short time at the home has so far been charged with four counts of murder.
I feel absolutely sick to the stomach that a NURSE has been charged with the murders of these old and frail innocent victims murders. A frigging bloody Nurse, a person who is supposed to care, a job that oozes care, empathy and understanding of the fears of both patients and their family and friends…SURELY HE IS THE MOST HATED MAN IN AUSTRALIA AND THE QUEUE TO APPLY SOME SORT OF JUSTICE ON HIM MUST BE QUEUING AROUND THE COAST OF AUSTRALIA OVER AND OVER….LET ME TELL YOU PEOPLE, THIS COULD OF BEEN A FACILITY THAT MY MUM, YOUR DAD, AUNTY, GRANDMA ETC WAS STAYING AT. AND THIS PRICK HAS SOME TRIVIAL (CAN THERE BE ANY OTHER) GRUDGE AGAINST THE HOSPITAL, OR MANAGEMENT, WHATEVER, WHO GIVES A SHIT, BUT HE WAS PREPARED TO SLAUGHTER EVERYONE IN THE ENTIRE HOME, WORKERS, CLIENTS AND EVERYONE IN BETWEEN….(IMAGINE IF HE SUCCEEDED IN HIS PLAN)
IF THE DEATH PENALTY IS NOT WARRANTED FOR A HUMAN FOR THIS TYPE OF CRIME, WHEN WILL IT BE EVER? MY HEART GOES OUT TO ALL THE VICTIMS, FAMILY AND STAFF IN THIS DIABOLICAL CRIME.
Roger Dean, 35, appeared via video link before magistrate Andrew George at Parramatta Local Court this morning.
Dean is expected to face a fifth charge of murder, a police spokeswoman told AAP.
Also today, the names of two of the victims of the fatal nursing home fire in Sydney’s west have been released. They are Alma Smith and Lola Bennett. No other details are available.
Dean, who has dark hair with a streak of red at the front and is of Asian appearance, said nothing during the court appearance and appeared calm.
The nurse, a Quakers Hill resident who was wearing a black Nike jumper, did not apply for bail, and it was refused.
He was taken back to custody and will next appear in Central Local Court on Thursday.
The fire broke out at the Quakers Hill nursing home at about 5am yesterday.
Three residents died in the blaze, and two more died later in hospital.
The nurse is believed to have worked at the home for only a short time.
Speaking at a press conference in Sydney this morning, Detective Superintendent Michael Willing said he could not comment on the motive of the crime.
He said the investigation is expected to take some time as officers still do not have access to the scene.
“The building is still structurally unsound and it will be some time before we can complete our examinations there,” he told reporters.
He described the blaze as a tragedy for the community.
“Our thoughts go out to those who have lost loved ones and those with family members … currently receiving treatment in hospital.”
Two fires are believed to have broken out in separate wings of the Quakers Hill nursing home in the early hours of Friday morning.
A total of 32 people were taken to hospital after the incident, with 15 admitted to the intensive care units at Royal North Shore and Concord hospitals.
Emergency crews had dragged out scores of bewildered, bedridden residents as the blaze took hold of the western Sydney home before dawn yesterday, in what was described as like a scene from a war zone.
“There was just a battlefield, people everywhere … the residents were strewn all over the place,” Anglican minister Geoff Bates told Macquarie radio.
Some 80 residents have been taken to hospital. Picture: John Grainger
Covered in ash and soot, bewildered elderly people, dozens still in their beds and some in wheelchairs, waited patiently for help as emergency crews scrambled to make sure all 88 residents had been accounted for.
Police confirmed the deadly blaze began at the back of the Quakers Hill building in two places, indicating arson.
“We’ll leave no stone unturned as we get to the bottom of this,” Acting NSW Police Commissioner Catherine Burn said, describing the events as a “horror day”.
Many relatives now face an anxious wait. Picture: John Grainger
The residents – many of whom suffer dementia – were awakened by alarms just before 5am, to see their home in flames.
Last night 12 were in critical condition in intensive care units at hospitals all over Sydney, including five who were receiving acute care at Concord Hospital‘s specialist burns unit. One resident died in hospital died today.
Another 18 people had injuries that were not considered life-threatening.
The Quakers Hill home passed a safety audit in July, but it is an older-style home without an emergency sprinkler system.
Australia is out of step with countries such as the US, which mandated sprinklers in new and existing nursing homes in 2008, at a cost of $845 million.
Fire and Rescue NSW Commissioner Greg Mullins described the blaze as a firefighter’s worst nightmare: “Turning up to a nursing home with elderly people who can’t get themselves out of harm’s way.”
He confirmed the dead had been in rooms closest to the source of the fire, separated from the other residents by a fire door.
Dr Nick Brennan, a geriatrician at St Vincent’s Hospital, feared that the elderly survivors could be traumatized, which might lead to more deaths.
“The prognosis for the frail and elderly in an intensive care situation is pretty poor,” he said.
More than 100 fire crews fought the intense blaze and more than 70 paramedics administered aid amid scenes of chaos.
Mr Mullins vowed that expert forensic crews would establish the cause of the fire.
- Nurse in custody as fire takes fifth life (news.theage.com.au)
- Man faces court over nursing home fire (news.theage.com.au)
- Nurse Charged Over Fatal Sydney Nursing Home Fire (abcnews.go.com)
- Man charged over Sydney nursing home fire (news.theage.com.au)
- Man arrested over nursing home fire (news.theage.com.au)
- Nurse charged over fatal nursing home fire in Sydney – BBC News (bbc.co.uk)