Fairground safety firm charged

A SAFETY inspection firm has been charged following an investigation into a Suffolk fairground accident, it emerged last night.

Dave Gooderham

A SAFETY inspection firm has been charged following an investigation into a Suffolk fairground accident, it emerged last night.

Leicestershire-based Fairground Inspection Services stands accused of failing to check on all the safety critical components of the Hellraiser ride before it crashed at the Big Night Out fireworks event in Long Melford in 2007.

Frederick Meakin, of the firm, has also been charged with failing to check on all the safety critical components of the ride prior to the annual event at Melford Hall Park, near Sudbury, which regularly attracts hundreds of visitors from across East Anglia and includes a fair and the popular fireworks extravaganza.

Meakin, of Plot 10, Five Counties Caravan Park, Stretton Road, Stretton, Rutland, Leicestershire, was the second person charged in connection with the incident.

On Monday, Walter Shufflebottom , of John's Way, South Ockendon, Essex, appeared before South East Suffolk magistrates. He did not enter a plea to a charge of failing to maintain fairground equipment.

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The charges follow a 15-month investigation by the Health and Safety Executive following the incident on November 2, 2007.

During Monday's hearing, which Meakin did not have to attend, South East Suffolk Magistrates Court heard that 10 members of the public were on the Hellraiser ride when it collapsed.

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.

The event, which combines fairground rides with fireworks, regularly attracts thousands of people and raised �20,000 for more than 50 good causes.

A spokesman for the magistrates court said Shufflebottom, Meakin and Fairground Inspection Services were listed to appear on April 6 when the case is expected to be committed to Ipswich Crown Court.