A sports club has been charged with corporate manslaughter and fined more than £130,000 after it pleaded guilty to a number of health and safety failings which led to the death of a young girl.
The judge at Southwark Crown Court fined Princes Sporting Club Limited, which ran the now defunct Princes Club Water Sports Park, “every penny it has” after bosses admitted the corporate manslaughter of 11 year-old Mari-Simon Cronje when she was flung from a banana boat.
Mari-Simon, from London, fell from the speed boat at a friend's birthday party, but because there was no observer on board, the driver didn't realise she had fallen into the water and ran her over, causing severe injuries.
Parents of some of the children were watching from the lakeside and attempted to leap into the water after failing to get the driver's attention. Paramedics arrived soon after but despite extensive attempts to revive her, Mari-Simon did not regain consciousness.
A report by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch said the use of safety procedures was “flawed at every level” at the water park. It added the helmet Mari-Simon had been issued with was a grey colour that was difficult to see in the lake water.
Summing up, Judge Alistair McCreath said, “The first thing that obviously must be said in this very unhappy case is a word of sympathy and a word of acknowledgement of the dreadful grief and terrible loss suffered by those who loved Mari-Simon. And of them there were plenty.”
He said that if the company was still solvent he would have slapped it with a bigger fine that would have led to its closure. The judge also criticised the Bedfont-based company for not having a spotter on board, saying it was “absolutely obvious” one was needed, and that the case was a particularly serious example of corporate manslaughter.
The club's director Mr Walker also denied a charge of neglect by a director, which accuses him of responsibility for the alleged health and safety failures which led to Mari-Simon's death. No action was taken by the prosecution and a not guilty verdict was issued by the judge.
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