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May 20, 2024

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Individuals and company sentenced after mother catapulted from fairground ride

Three individuals and a company have been sentenced after a mother-of-eight was catapulted from a fairground ride in Hillingdon, London.

Mrs Khadra Ali spent four months in hospital after she was ejected from the Xcelerator ride at the Funderpark funfair in Yiewsley on 10 April 2018. Her family continue to provide her with the support she needs after suffering multiple fractures to her back, hips, pelvis, ribs, both collarbones as well as internal bleeding and a significant head injury.

Credit: HSE.

Mrs Ali, who was 45 at the time, went on the fast motion ride alongside her daughter but was not suitably restrained in her seat.

As the ride picked up speed, Mrs Ali, now 51, screamed for help and clung on for some time before being ejected.

She hit the barrier of the next ride and landed on the ground.

She spent the next few weeks in a coma and four months in hospital as a result of her injuries. Mrs Ali can now no longer do chores or activities with her children.

No checks were in place before the ride begun 

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the ride’s seat restraint system was designed with electrical and mechanical failings by the manufacturer, Perrin Stevens Limited.

The ride control system was set up in such a way that it would not have detected all failures. Derek Hackett, the ride owner trading as Hackett Fairs, failed to properly maintain the ride, this was in part due to Perrin Stevens’ operator manual lacking in information on inspection and maintenance of the seat restraint system.

The HSE also found on the day of the incident Mr Hackett’s ride operator had no attendant assisting them despite the operations manual requiring a minimum of two people to operate and monitor the ride. Crucially, the operator did not check each rider’s restraint bar as they should have before starting the ride, and did not notice that Mrs Ali required assistance and stopped the ride.

DMG Technical Ltd was the appointed inspection body and had overall control of the in-service annual inspection of the ride and responsibility for issuing the declaration of the operation compliance (DOC).

David Geary, Director at DMG Technical Ltd, completed the annual inspection in 2017 and did not identify any failed switches or maintenance concerns. Mr Geary completed initial tests and signed off the ride for use in 2013. He also completed the required Design Review of the ride but failed to identify the electrical and mechanical design failings. The ride had been in use for a number of months before the design review was signed off by Mr Geary.

At a hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 7 May 2024:

  • Credit: HSE.

    Perrin Stevens pleaded guilty as a director of Perrin Stevens Ltd (dissolved) that their offence under Section 6(1)(a) and Section 6(1a)(d) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 was attributable to his consent, connivance and/or neglect, whereby he was guilty of an offence contrary to Section 33(1)(a) by virtue of Section 37(1) of the Act. He was handed a custodial sentence of 32 weeks, suspended for 18 months, ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid work and pay £11,444 in costs.

  • Derek Hackett pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. He was given a custodial sentence of 18 weeks, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to pay £4,800 in costs.
  • DMG Technical Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £51,000 and ordered to pay £30,000 in costs.
  • David Geary pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. He also pleaded guilty as director of DMG Technical Ltd that their offence as attributable to his consent, connivance and/or neglect, whereby he was guilty of an offence contrary to Section 33(1)(a) by virtue of Section 37(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. He was handed a custodial sentence of 44 weeks, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to pay £24,000 in costs.

“Justice has now been served”

HSE Inspector Helen Donnelly said: “Mrs Ali was simply enjoying a day out with her children in what she expected to be a safe environment. As a result she continues to suffer pain and significant impact to her everyday life.

“Good health and safety management often requires multiple precautions being put in place, and often by different parties. This incident shows that there are serious consequences when we do not fulfil our health and safety duties and become reliant on the actions of others to ensure the safety of workers and the public. Good health and safety is a collective effort and we must all take responsibility for the role we have in keeping people safe.

“While this investigation has been long and complex, we hope Mrs Ali and her family will find some comfort with the sentence and see that justice has now been served.”

A statement from Mrs Ali’s representative said: “The family of Khadra Ali is deeply relieved that the criminal prosecution has concluded following the tragic incident at the Funderpark Fun Fair. They are grateful to everyone who has supported them throughout this challenging process.

“While no outcome can undo the impact of the life-changing injuries on Khadra’s health and well-being, they hope this marks the beginning of their journey to rebuild their lives and provide her with the support she needs moving forward.

“The family remain committed to providing Khadra with the best quality of life possible.

“They respectfully request privacy as they continue to focus on caring for Khadra and facing the challenges ahead.”

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