Drayton Manor Park Ltd fined £1m

24 March 2021

Author: Ben Johnston
Practice Area: Health and Safety

Law

Stafford Crown Court has issued a fine of £1m to Drayton Manor Park Ltd following a guilty plea for health and safety breaches relating to the death of 11-year-old Evha Jannath.

Evha, who had been on a school trip to Drayton Manor theme park on 9th May 2017, fell from a water ride into 12ft deep water and drowned. A jury at a previously held inquest had found that Evha’s death had been accidental.

The Health and Safety Executive investigated the accident and brought a prosecution under Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 for failure of the company to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that individuals not in their employment were not exposed to risks to their health or safety.

The Company’s accounts showed a turnover of approximately £24 million in 2019, making it a ‘Medium’ sized company for the purposes of the Health and Safety Sentencing Guidelines which are currently applicable in England and Wales. Under the sentencing guidelines, the Prosecution had suggested a possible starting point for any fine of £950,000, with a category range of £600,000 to £2.5m. This category range for a ‘Medium’ sized company requires the offender to be considered by a Court as having ‘high culpability’ with a high likelihood of serious harm occurring (harm category 1). In reaching a decision on sentence, the guidelines require a Court to consider any aggravating and mitigating factors. The guidelines also require that a reduction of up to one third be applied for a guilty plea.

At the sentencing hearing, which took place over two days, the Prosecution cited previous failings that had occurred with the same ride; four other people had reportedly fallen into the water between 2011 and 2013. The Prosecution also noted that the “control measures they had were failing every day”.

Richard Matthews QC, representing Drayton Manor Park Ltd, advised the Court that mitigating factors included that the park had co-operated fully with the HSE investigation and had no previous convictions.

On issuing the sentence, Mr Justice Spencer remarked that there was "no prospect of the fine being paid" as the company operating the park had since gone into administration in August 2020. He stated that "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."

If you would like any further information or advice relating to health and safety law, please contact Ashleigh Birkett or Ben Johnston from the Health and Safety team at Carson McDowell.

*This information is for guidance purposes only and does not constitute, nor should be regarded, as a substitute for taking legal advice that is tailored to your circumstances.

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