Caretaker denies causing Sheffield tot’s death fall

Robert Warner. Ross Parry Agency
Robert Warner. Ross Parry Agency

A part-time caretaker at a block of flats near Sheffield city centre where a child fell to her death told a jury he didn’t know the fourth floor walkway was defective.

Robert Warner, aged 45, was giving evidence in his defence at Sheffield Crown Court.

He denies causing the manslaughter by gross negligence of Ryaheen Banimuslem, aged two-and-a-half, who died in June 2012 after she fell through a gap in the walkway where a glass panel should have been.

Warner told jurors he replaced a smashed glass panel on the river side of the North Bank apartment block off the Wicker with one from storage on June 14, but it didn’t fit.

“I took it downstairs to the lobby, got another panel and took it up to the fourth floor,” he said.

Warner said he didn’t realise that a second panel was missing on the fourth floor walkway.

He said it looked as if all the panels on the walkway were intact and he added that none of the residents had mentioned a missing panel to him.

The court has heard the building was taken over by a management firm called Arim at the end of 2011 after it previously ‘fell below statutory and regulatory requirements’.

Warner, of Shirehall Crescent, Shiregreen, Sheffield, worked full time at the site but his hours were reduced to two days a week when Arim took over.

He was described by one Arim colleague as ‘helpful and conscientious’.

Another said he was ‘the best caretaker the building had ever had’.

They added Warner ‘took his job seriously’ and was ‘proud of his work’.

Ryaheen was playing tig with her brother when she ran along the walkway and through the gap, falling to the ground.

She died at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

It is alleged Warner used the walkway panel to replace the smashed one on the river side.

Jurors have now retired to consider their verdict.