News & Views

Merlin Entertainment Pleads Guilty Over Rollercoaster Crash

DC
BY Douglas Cameron
Health & Safety
BG Orange

The owners of Alton Towers (Merlin Entertainment), have plead guilty to breaching health and safety legislation which led to last year’s Smiler rollercoaster crash. The Organisation is accused of contravening Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Etc. Act 1974.

Section 3 places general duties on employers to conduct their undertakings in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons other than themselves or their employees are not exposed to risks to their health or safety.

Leah Washington and Vicky Balch, both had legs amputated following the crash and three others suffered life-changing injuries.

Merlin Entertainment had previously accepted responsibility for the crash after carrying out its own internal investigation following the incident. A carriage carrying people collided with a stationary carriage on the same track. The collision happened on a low section of the ride, which could reach speeds of up to 50mph and has 14 loops.

The District Judge at North Staffordshire Justice Centre instructed that the case be moved to Stafford Crown Court for sentencing, on a date to be fixed, due to the gravity of the offence. 

Introduced on 1st February 2016, the new sentencing guidelines for contraventions of safety legislation will now be decided on the basis of a company’s turnover and could run as high as £10m for serious infractions and up to £20m or more for larger companies in the event of a fatality.

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