IT IS NEARLY four years since Evha Jannath died. Her school trip to Drayton Manor Park in Staffordshire was supposed to be a day of fun – but it ended in tragedy, as Evha drowned after falling out of a boat on the Splash Canyon ride.
Today the operator of the Park, Drayton Manor Park Ltd, has been fined £1 million for breaches in Health and Safety. The Health & Safety Executive had prosecuted the company after Evha’s death, and the company had already admitted a breach under Section 3 of the Health & Safety at Work Act.
Even as he announced the fine in Stafford Crown Court, Mr Justice Spencer admitted that there was no prospect of the fine being paid. This was because Drayton Manor Park Ltd has gone into administration. The park itself was sold to the Looping Group, which operates the West Midlands Safari Park and parks in various locations in Europe. Nonetheless, the Judge insisted that an “appropriate punishment” should be given as a warning to other operators that they must take health and safety seriously. He also wanted to let Evha’s family know that the operators had committed a serious offnce.
The Court heard that safety measures on the ride were inadequate – and accidents had already occurred. Four incidents had been recorded in the two years 2011-13. Evha had stood up during the ride and the rapid and bumpy ride had seen her thrown into the water. Despite knowing the dangers of the ride, the park operators did not issue proper warnings, did not insist on suitable supervision – and did not have systems to ensure that help would arrive quickly in the event of an accident.
Mr Justice Spencer recognised that Evha’s death had had a “devastating impact” on her family. The fine and the Judge’s intent in imposing it on the operating company are welcome: but negligence is committed by people, not companies. How is it that no one manager at the park had to face justice for ignoring the potential consequences of risks they knew existed?
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Evha Jannath dies at Drayton Manor Theme Park
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