Sheffield death fall flats faced problems

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A Sheffield apartment block where a toddler fell to her death was blighted by vandalism and maintenance problems, a court heard.

Buildings caretaker Robert Warner is on trial accused of manslaughter by gross negligence after two-year-old Ryaheen Banimuslem fell from a fourth-floor walkway at the North Bank apartments on Willey Street, in the city centre.

Sheffield Crown Court heard that various tenants had described ‘vandalism and criminal activity’ at the flats – from people spitting after chewing the substance Khat to cars being broken into.

Witness Dr Oliver Ashby, a former tenant, said : “I think there had always been problems in the building, from when I moved in.

“People had inscribed obscenities into the metal doors of the lifts. There was a lot of litter lying around.”

Teacher Alexander Hughes, another tenant at the time of Ryaheen’s death, had his car broken into twice in the flats’ car park.

A shutter door to the car park was ‘frequently’ broken or stuck in the open position.

Mr Hughes said he complained to management company Arim but staff were unhelpful. It once took five days to reach them.

Arim managed the flats on behalf of BNP Paribas, who took control after building owner Artisan Wicker Riverside defaulted on a loan.

Residents said the maintenance of the property improved ‘slightly’, with new security in place, after Ryaheen died at around 5pm on June 27 2012.

But they also said that a glass panel on a protective barrier around the fourth floor communal garden had been smashed for ‘weeks’.

The prosecution allege that Warner, 45, of Shirehall Crescent, Shiregreen, removed a glass panel from the walkway where Ryaheen fell to repair a smashed one in the garden area, leaving a gap which she then fell through while playing with her family.

He denies manslaughter by gross negligence.

The trial continues.