Drayton Manor firm fined £1m after death of 11-year-old girl in 2017

Drayton Manor firm fined £1m after death of 11-year-old girl in 2017

No prospect of payment, says judge, as former Staffordshire theme park operator is in administration

After falling from the ride she was recovered from the water and flown to Birmingham children’s hospital where she later died.

A postmortem found she had suffered fatal chest injuries.

 


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Drayton Manor firm fined £1m after death of 11-year-old girl in 2017” was written by Jessica Murray, for The Guardian on Thursday 18th March 2021 14.12 UTC

The former operators of Drayton Manor theme park have been fined £1m for safety failings that led to the death of an 11-year-old girl on its water rapids ride.

Evha Jannath was “propelled” into the water from a vessel on the Splash Canyon ride at Drayton Manor in Staffordshire during an end-of-year school trip in May 2017.

During a sentencing hearing at Stafford crown court on Thursday, Mr Justice Spencer said: “This was an utterly tragic waste of a young life.”

He said there was “no prospect of the fine being paid”, given that the company operating the park at the time of the tragedy had since gone into administration.

He added: “In my judgment it would be wholly inappropriate to do other than impose the fine which the offence merited.

“The public and Evha’s family must not be led to think that this serious offence, which resulted in the death of a child, can properly be met by only a nominal [financial] penalty.”

Drayton Manor had previously admitted breaching section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act after the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) brought a prosecution against the park.

HSE lawyers said the theme park’s operators oversaw “systemic failures of safety” on the river rapids ride. “The control measures they had were failing every day,” said HSE barrister James Puzey at the start of the hearing on Wednesday.

Park records showed between 2011 and 2013 there were four instances of people falling into the water on the ride, which was closed following Evha’s death.

In 2013, 10-year-old Patrick Treacy fell into the water on the Splash Canyon attraction and had to be rescued by a member of the public. His mother, Victoria Treacy, said she expressed concerns about the lack of seatbelts on the ride.

Evha, who attended Jameah girls academy in Leicester, was part of a group of five girls who went on the ride unsupervised.

After falling from the ride she was recovered from the water and flown to Birmingham children’s hospital where she later died.

A postmortem found she had suffered fatal chest injuries.

The judge added: “It is important that lessons are learned and the seriousness of the defendant company’s failing in this case is marked by an appropriate punishment.”

The park has since been sold to the Looping group, which also owns West Midland Safari Park.

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