The owners of the Smiler Rollercoaster that crashed last year seriously injuring five people has pleaded guilty to breaking health and safety laws.
The owner of Alton Towers, Merlin Entertainments, now face a multimillion-pound fine.
Two people had their legs amputated after the collision, while three others suffered life-changing injuries.
It emerged that a manual operator “overrode” the ride’s governing computer system, leading to the smash.
Indicating a guilty plea at North Staffordshire Justice Centre, Merlin’s counsel Simon Antrobus said the theme park accepts that additional reasonable and practicable measures could have been taken to guard against the safety risk that arose.
District Judge Jack McGarva warned that the £250 million-a-year turnover company faced “very high culpability” over the incident and “may be ordered to pay a very large fine”.
Ride not as safe as it should have been
Present during the hearing were the five most seriously injured victims and their families: Vicky Balch and Leah Washington, who each lost a leg in the crash, as well as Joe Pugh, Daniel Thorpe and Chandaben Chauhan.
They listened from the public gallery as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which brought the case, said that the ride had never had “a proper settled system” for staff to follow when carriages stopped on-track, since the ride opened.
Bernard Thorogood, for the HSE, told the court the rollercoaster came into operation in May 2013 and ran from then until the time of the accident at the beginning of June 2015 in a way that was not as safe as it should have been.
Source: The Guardian
Date Published: April 29, 2016
Author: Jonathan Brown