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Suspended prison sentence for pub landlord over unsafe inflatable play equipment

BY Lee Craig
Health & Safety

In a prosecution brought by North Somerset Council, Andrew Rockliffe, pleaded guilty to a health and safety breach as an employer. Bristol Crown Court was told that Mr Rockliffe, landlord of the Bristol Inn at the time of the incident, had failed to ensure an inflatable slide he had put in the garden was safe to use.


He was given a ten-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, ordered to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work and pay a £140 victim surcharge.

The court heard that Mr Rockliffe ran the pub from February 2016 and in that year bought a bouncy castle for use by customers, which was put on a level area of ground in the terraced beer garden. He later added additional inflatable play equipment – a low-level assault course and an inflatable slide.

In August 2018 while in the pub’s beer garden, an eight-year-old boy did a somersault at the top of the slide which caused him to overbalance and fall from the equipment to the ground. He suffered a fractured skull and other head injuries.

The court was told that the risk assessment prepared was inadequate, precautions on the ground were insufficient and the equipment was defective.

North Somerset Council’s food and commercial safety team’s investigation, found that Mr Rockliffe had:

  • Failed to ensure that electrical cables were adequately protected to prevent access or trips;
  • Not put suitable matting in place that catered for the risk of a fall from height;
  • Failed to ensure that the play equipment was a sufficient distance away from unprotected areas such as steps and fencing;
  • Failed to ensure that daily safety checks were adequate.

In July 2018, Harlow MP Robert Halfon called for an investigation into the regulation of the inflatables, after a three-year-old girl was killed when she was thrown from a bouncy castle.

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