‘Sarcastic’ remark by Sheffield flats caretaker

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A caretaker accused of failing to maintain a Sheffield block of flats where a little girl fell to her death ‘sarcastically’ told builders his management company wouldn’t want to pay for repairs, a court heard.

Two-year-old Ryaheen Banimuslem fell to her death during a game of tig after she plunged through a gap in a walkway at the North Bank Apartments in Willey Street near the Wicker, because a protective glass panel was missing.

Part-time caretaker Robert Warner, aged 45, of Shirehall Crescent, Shiregreen, denies causing the youngster’s manslaughter by gross negligence on June 27, 2012.

Jurors at Sheffield Crown Court yesterday heard from builders who visited the flats about two weeks before the tragedy to quote for repairs to several damaged panels.

John Parry said he and his boss Peter Curry met Mr Warner and he took them up to the fourth floor.

“There was a smashed panel and broken glass on the floor. The caretaker said people were always vandalising the place,” he said.

Mr Curry said: “We placed a bench in front of the missing panel to obstruct it.

“He said they wouldn’t want to pay for it, in a sarcastic tone. We thought he would want to do something straight away. He sort of shrugged it off.”

Asked what Mr Warner’s attitude was, Mr Curry said: “It was a bit childish. His reaction was that the company wouldn’t want to pay for it - said in a sarcastic manner.”

The smashed panel was on the river side of the block. The prosecution alleges Mr Warner took a panel from the walkway to replace the smashed pane because it was in a more prominent place.

The jury also heard from a property landlord who owned a flat in the block.

Gary Barker said he was very upset when he heard the little girl had died, because three weeks before the tragedy he’d reported a missing glass panel to the flats’ management company, Arim.

He said: “It was quite upsetting to be honest.

“They had done nothing, and a child had died subsequently.”

He later found out the panel he’d raised concerns about was replaced on June 14 but he was never told.

Mr Barker told the jury in his opinion the flats were ‘very poorly’ managed.

The trial continues.