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April 7, 2014

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Companies plead guilty after five-year-old’s gate crush death


Two companies have pleaded guilty to breaching safety laws over the death of a five-year-old girl crushed by an electric gate. It is alleged the gates were not installed in line with national and European safety standards and that safety checks were not carried out.
Karolina Golabek was killed by a gate fitted at new flats in Bridgend on 3 July 2010. She had been playing alone in her garden when she became trapped in the three-foot high electric gate for 30 minutes.
A neighbour used his security key fob to open the gate and free Karolina but she had suffered massive internal injuries. She was taken to the Princess of Wales Hospital, Bridgend, where she died.
John Glen Installation Services Ltd (Swansea) and Tremorfa Ltd, which was was appointed by a housing association to maintain the gate in 2009, pleaded guilty to breaching section 33 of the HSWA 1974 at Cardiff Crown Court. This follows an inquest into Karolina’s death in October 2012, at which the jury recorded a verdict of accidental death, contributed to by an unsafe gate and caused by a series of failures, inadequacies and omissions to adhere to safety standards.
The inquest had heard that a new motor was fitted on the gates in May 2008, but residents had complained about faults.
Judge Neil Bidder QC said the case was very serious and complex, and a considerable amount of preparation work was needed by all sides before sentencing.
In a statement, Karolina’s family said: “She was a very happy, fun-loving, daughter. She loved animals, drawing pictures and enjoyed picking flowers for us: her loving parents and brother.
“Her parents and her brother would like to thank everyone for their kind words and support at this very difficult time.”
“She will be deeply missed.”
Karolina’s Polish-born father died five months after the tragedy.
The case was adjourned for sentencing on 12 June.

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