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Home Canterbury News Article
A seaside boss put profit before his duty when a child suffered a serious injury on an inflatable ride, a court heard.
The six-year-old had sliced her fingers open on a broken fan at a birthday bash at Herne Bay's Hippodrome in January last year.
But a judge heard 59-year-old Martin Fossey - who owned Rec-Tech Leisure, which ran the Castle Maze - decided "the show must go on".
Despite the child being in distress, he allowed another party of youngsters to use the maze - as distressed parents insisted on the emergency services being summoned.
Judge James O'Mahony said: "I don't find him to be a malicious man at all, but I do find that - out of character, he was more concerned with his own interests, in effect that the show - especially the financial show - must go on."
The judge heard the large blower had been placed too close to the maze and had a broken grill.
He said: "When dealing with children of ages between two and 11, it was glaringly obvious that care and attention to detail were required.
"In my judgement, it was very seriously lacking. There was systemic failure... and this was an accident waiting to happen."
Fossey, of Avenue Gardens, Cliftonville and his company admitted breaches of health and safety laws.
He was fined £25,000 and Rec-Tech were fined £10,000 and both were ordered to pay £26,075 court costs.
Canterbury Crown Court heard how the child - who cannot be named for legal reasons - was crawling through the maze when she put her fingers into the fan.
Three of them were slashed open and she needed specialist surgery to repair damaged tendons.
At an earlier hearing, witnesses told how they saw a trail of blood across the floor as the girl - whose father was in court to see the case - ran through the centre screaming.
Judge O'Mahony said "it was manifestly obvious" the fan should have been sufficiently remote from the castle and it should have been fenced off.
He added: "This child was crawling through the maze when she caught her fingers in the fan. She suffered deep and serious injuries to three fingers on her right hand.
"They were cut to the bone and damaging the nerve ends. These injuries necessitated surgery and there was copious bleeding. The child must have been in great pain, shock and distress.
"Unfortunately matters got worse, after the wound had been cleaned up Mr Fossey went on to put the next batch of children through the maze even though he was fully aware of the risk to them."
The court heard some parents were so shocked they tried to stop children entering the maze.
The judge added: "It could not have been more obviously demonstrated what that risk was. And it was clear that the child needed immediate and professional attention.
"Mr Fossey's attitude was to minimise the seriousness of the injury and declared that in his opinion an ambulance was not necessary. His attitude was described by witnesses as 'blase'".
The judge ruled it had been a "reckless breach of law" and Fossey's actions were prompted by financial motives in allowing more children to use the maze.
Angus Withington, defending, said: "This accident has had a negative effect on his business.
"This accident came as a very significant blow to him because he has worked throughout his life in the provision of leisure and committed himself to maintaining high standards.
"He bitterly regrets that a significant accident happened on his watch. It is a matter of profound regret that because he hadn't experience in this kind of thing before he did not react in the way he now recognises he should have.
"That is an out-of-character aberration for him."
Fossey was given five years to pay his fine within five years or go to prison for 18 months in default. The company had to pay its fine within three years.
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