• Kyle Durward

'No prospect' of Drayton Manor paying £1m fine over child's death

The former operator of a theme park in Staffordshire has been fined £1 million after a schoolgirl died on a ride, but there is no prospect of the penalty being paid as the former theme park operator is in administration, the judge has said.

Eleven-year-old Evha Jannath was on the Splash Canyon rapids ride at Drayton Manor during a school trip in May 2017 when she was 'propelled' from a vessel into the water.

She was able to wade to the conveyer belt at the end of the ride and climb onto it, but then fell into a section of deeper water and drowned.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the risk assessment in place was not suitable and sufficient as it did not properly assess or address the risk of passengers being ejected/falling from the raft, despite previous similar incidents. There were inadequate control measures in place to detect a person in the water as the CCTV covered only half the ride and the CCTV monitors were not suitable for observing passenger behaviour appropriately. In addition, there was no system at the park to rescue anyone who had fallen into the water.

'The risks from ejection from the raft had been evident to Drayton Manor for some time, yet they still failed to take the action that could have prevented Evha’s death,' said HSE principal inspector Lyn Spooner.

Drayton Manor Park Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act and was fined £1 million.

In sentencing yesterday, 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.

The park has since been sold to Looping Group, which runs attractions in Europe and the UK including West Midland Safari Park and Pleasurewood Hills.

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.'

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