�12,000 in fines after fairground ride collapse

THOSE responsible for the collapse of the Hellraiser fairground ride which collapsed and injured eight people have been fined a total of �12,000.

Colin Adwent

THOSE responsible for the collapse of the Hellraiser fairground ride which collapsed and injured eight people have been fined a total of �12,000.

The owner of the faulty fairground ride has been fined �2,000 after it broke during Long Melford's annual big night out.

In addition the independent fairground examiner, who had given it a clean bill of health, must also pay �2,000, after pleading guilty to health and safety offences.

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Several cars on the Hellraiser ride - a ground-level spinning machine - came loose and crashed into each other shortly before 9pm on Friday, November 2, 2007.

Firefighters had to free two people trapped by the cars and several others were injured, including three teenagers.

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A 24-year-old woman was taken to hospital with broken ribs and damage to her spine, among other injuries.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the crash was caused by poor maintenance, which should have been spotted by the independent fairground inspector.

Walter Shufflebottom, who owned the Hellraiser ride, appeared for sentencing at Ipswich Crown Court today along with independent fairground examiner Frederick Meakin and his company Fairground Inspection Services.

All three had entered guilty pleas at an earlier hearing.

Shufflebottom, of John's Way, South Ockendon, Essex, admitted failing to maintain the ride in good order, breaching Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. He was fined �2,000.

Meakin, of Five Counties Caravan Park, Stretton Road, Leicestershire, admitted failing to carry out an adequate examination of the ride, breaching Section 37 of the same Act. He was fined �2,000 with �1,000 costs.

Fairground Inspection Services, based at Meakin's address above, also admitted failing to properly examine the ride, in this case a breach of Section 3(1) of the same Act. It must pay an �8,000 fine with �1,000 costs.

HSE Inspector Martin Kneebone, who led the investigation into the ride's collapse, said: “This incident could have proved fatal. High standards of maintenance and inspection are absolutely essential to ensure the safe operation of any ride.

“The Hellraiser ride was in a very poor state of repair and should not have been operating at the event. The Big Night Out could have so easily ended in tragedy.

“Some of the key structural components had deteriorated to such an extent that they were no longer safe and had been inappropriately repaired over a significant period of time.

“Neither the owner of the ride nor the examiner took appropriate action to remedy this problem, which ultimately resulted in the ride collapsing.

“This incident should remind all amusement ride owners and ride examiners that public safety is of paramount importance.”

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