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Former Drayton Manor operator fined £1m after schoolgirl's ride death.


The former theme park operator has been fined £1m after a girl died on a ride but the penalty will never be paid as it is in administration.

The girl, Evha Jannath, 11, who could not swim, was on the Splash Canyon rapids ride at Drayton Manor, Tamworth, Staffordshire, during a school trip in May 2017 when she was "propelled" into the water from a boat when it hit a barrier. An inquest in 2019 concluded she died accidentally.

Mr Justice Spencer told a sentencing hearing: "This was an utterly tragic waste of a young life."

He added there was "no prospect of the fine being paid" as the company operating the park at the time had since gone into administration.

Drayton Manor Park Ltd previously admitted a breach under Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act, after the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) brought the prosecution.

The park had a history of failings on the same ride before the death of Evha, from Leicester, the court heard.

The park has been sold to Looping Group, which runs attractions in Europe and the UK, including West Midland Safari Park and Pleasurewood Hills.

Mr Justice Spencer added: "It is important that lessons are learned and the seriousness of the defendant company's failing in this case is marked by an appropriate punishment."

A barrister for the Health and Safety Executive, James Puzey, said that the accident had happened "in context of the systemic failures of safety on this ride. The control measures they had were failing every day."

Between 2011-2013, park records show there were four instances of people falling into the water at the ride before it was closed following Evha's death.

One was in 2013, when a boy, 10, fell into Splash Canyon and had to be rescued by a member of the public.

Evha Jannath, who was on an end-of-year school trip with Jameah Girls Academy, was unsupervised on the ride and, at times, along with other pupils, was standing up.

Mr Justice Spencer said: "The public and Evha's family must not be led to think that this serious offence, which resulted in the death of a child, can properly be met by only a nominal penalty.

"In my judgment it would be wholly inappropriate to do other than impose the fine which the offence merited. No sentence of the court can begin to reflect the tragedy of this case for Evha's family."

Speaking after the hearing, HSE principal inspector Lyn Spooner said Evha Jannath died "at the end of what should have been a fun day out. The risks from ejection from the raft had been evident to Drayton Manor for some time, yet they still failed to take the action that could have prevented Evha's death."

Richard Matthews QC, representing Drayton Manor Park Ltd, told the hearing the park had co-operated with the HSE investigation fully and had no previous convictions.