A fairground ride-owner whose negligence caused a nine-year-old girl to be “flung” from her seat on the “inherently dangerous” machine during an event in Northamptonshire has avoided jail.
Patrick McGeough was fined £3,120 after failing to check and secure the safety bars on the twister ride and then setting the speed of the ride to 50 per cent faster during the Hollowell Steam Rally bonfire night event in Guilsborough in November 2012.
Those few moments during the incident must have been horrifying for both girlsRecorder John Butterfield QC
The child, who had been on the ride with her 13-year-old cousin, suffered severe internal and external bruising, several months of pain, missed two weeks of school, and had to give up her favourite hobby of horse-riding following the accident.
During a sentencing hearing at Northampton Crown Court yesterday, Ben Mills, prosecuting, said: “Both girls got on the ride at around 8.45pm and pulled down the safety barrier themselves, but no one came to check it or secure the secondary safety measure, a chain to stop the bar coming loose. Video footage by the girl’s mother shows the chain dangling loose.
“The defendant then switched it on at 16 revolutions per minute, when the maximum speed recommended is 11.
“The bar flew open and the child was thrown out and flung as far as the metal safety barrier around the ride itself, causing it to fall over.”
In a statement read out by the victim, who spent the night in hospital, she said: “The ride was going very fast, then it came open. My cousin tried to pull me back in but it was too late.”
McGeough, from Rutland, pleaded guilty to the charges but the court heard that during a police interview he said that the girls were “behaving in a way that caused concern” and that he made an announcement to “hold tight” before the ride. None of the witness statements agreed.
An engineer who inspected the ride following the incident added that it “had not been adequately maintained” and was “an inherently dangerous piece of equipment.”
In mitigation, Scott Ivill said that the 29-year-old father-of-two accepted full responsibility of negligence. He said: “He has expressed remorse and regret that the young girl was hurt.
“After the incident, the ride was stopped and not used again until steps were taken to make sure it safe.”
McGeough was ordered to pay a £1,500 fine, £1,500 court costs and a compulsory victim surcharge of £120.
Recorder John Butterfield QC said: “It was borderline miraculous that there were no broken bones or more serious injuries, Those few moments during the incident must have been horrifying for both girls.
“Many of the secondary safety measures could not have been employed and the speed was substantially in excess. These things could have easily been avoided.
“You made the speed faster to make the ride more attractive to customers and the safety checks were not done properly in order to cut down the time between rides. Your neglect was a conscious decision with profit in mind.”
Speaking after the hearing, Neil Ward, an inspector from the Health and Safety Executive, which prosecuted Mcgeough, said: “Members of the public quite rightly expect fair rides to be safe. This one was not and it led to a traumatic incident for a young girl and her family.
“The incident could however easily have been prevented. Operating the ride beyond the speed it was designed to be run at, and without the secondary locks in place was a recipe for disaster.”