Doncaster Council has been fined after an eight-year-old girl was trapped and severely injured by a stray wooden hoarding.
The youngster, who was visiting the borough from her home in Germany, was on her way to see a festive pantomime at CAST theatre, Waterdale, with her father and grandfather when the hoarding from a nearby derelict construction site blew onto her.
Doncaster Magistrates’ Court heard she was trapped underneath the panel and suffered multiple serious injuries including a fractured hip and a broken leg during her ordeal.
Tim Johnson, prosecuting on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive, told the court her father and grandfather managed to move the hoarding off her.
He said: “She did not speak at first. She was taken into the theatre, where she began to cry, and she was then taken to hospital. Thankfully, she has now made a full recovery. This has been traumatic for her and her family.”
The council had previously been made aware of two similar incidents when the same hoarding had blown down in the same month – December 2013 – during high winds. However, it failed to take action.
James Buchanan, mitigating, apologised to the family on the council’s behalf. He said: “The council send their sincere and unreserved apologies to the child involved and her family. Put simply, this should not have happened. We have now put measures in place to ensure that it does not happen again, such as giving all our staff training in health and safety.”
Fining the council £12,000, District Judge Jonathan Bennett said: “Mr Buchanan has not mentioned this, but we are in a time when the council has been hit by cuts and I have to consider that any fine I give will have an impact on the people of Doncaster.
“However, fines are in place to act as deterrent and highlight how important it is to take health and safety seriously.”
The council was also ordered to pay £1,485 in costs after pleading guilty to an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.