Fairground operator in court

A FAIRGROUND operator has appeared in court following the collapse of a ride at a popular fireworks extravaganza.

Helen Skene

A FAIRGROUND operator has appeared in court following the collapse of a ride at a popular fireworks extravaganza.

Walter Shufflebottom did not enter a plea to the charge of failing to maintain fairground equipment at the annual Big Night Out event at Long Melford, near Sudbury.

The case follows a 15-month investigation from the Health and Safety Executive following the incident on November 2, 2007.

South East Suffolk Magistrates' heard that 10 members of the public were on the Hell Raiser ride when it collapsed.

The court heard that all the riders suffered injuries and some were hospitalised.

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The event, which combines fairground rides with fireworks, regularly attracts thousands of people and raised �20,000 for more than 50 good causes. But it was marred by the accident when the Hell Raiser ride came off its rails trapping two people.

Young mother Zoe Nolan, from Sudbury, and boyfriend Stephen Rogers, suffered spinal injuries and post traumatic stress in the crash as her five-year-old daughter Courtney Rose looked on. A dozen more people were described as walking wounded

Shufflebottom, of John's Way, South Ockendon, Essex, was told to return on April 6 when his case would be committed to Ipswich Crown Court as it was a serious matter.

The Big Night Out was held again last November at Melford Hall Park, with rides and fireworks - set to a musical theme - again proving popular raising thousands of pounds.

Since its inception, the annual event has raised more than �250,000 for local charities and organisations.