Liquid nitrogen cocktail: Lancaster's Oscar's Wine Bar fined £100k
- 17 September 2015
- From the section Lancashire
A wine bar has been fined £100,000 after a woman drank a cocktail containing liquid nitrogen and had to have her stomach removed.
Gaby Scanlon, of Heysham, Lancashire, was served the Nitro-Jagermeister while celebrating her 18th birthday in 2012.
Oscar's Wine Bar in Lancaster previously admitted health and safety failings, at Preston Crown Court.
The court heard Ms Scanlon was left close to death after drinking the £3.95 shot.
She was taken to Lancaster Royal Infirmary, where a CT scan found a large perforation in her stomach.
Ms Scanlon, now 20, spent three weeks in hospital, undergoing surgery to remove her stomach and connect her oesophagus directly to her small bowel.
'Smoke from nose'
Her solicitors told the court the experience, on 4 October 2012, had "completely changed" her life.
She now suffers from "episodes of agonising pain", has to avoid some foods and can no longer enjoy eating, they said.
Describing the moment she drank the shot, Ms Scanlon told the court: "I turned to the man and asked if it was okay to drink. He said 'Yes'.
"Smoke was coming from my nose and mouth. Straight away I knew something was not right. My stomach expanded."
Oscar's Wine Bar Ltd, registered in Swinton, South Yorkshire, pleaded guilty to one count of failing in the duty of an employer to ensure the safety of persons not in its employment, admitting it failed to ensure the shot cocktail was safe for consumption.
No risk assessment was carried out regarding the potential dangers of the drinks.
The firm's director Andrew Dunn, of Old Earswick, York, pleaded not guilty to his part in the company's failings.
The prosecution said it would offer no evidence against him if he made a £20,000 contribution to the court costs prior to sentencing.
A spokesman for Lancaster City Council said: "We took the view that in the public interest it was not necessary to prosecute Mr Dunn, taking into account the interests of the family."
Passing sentence, Judge Pamela Badley said the bar's actions "fell very far short of standards".
Liquid nitrogen was present in the Nitro-Jagermeister shot to create a cloud of smoke in the glass.
While such drinks are not illegal, physicists say the liquid must completely evaporate before the drink is safe for consumption.
The court heard the bar had sold a range of cocktails using the chemical after Mr Dunn saw similar drinks in the Berkeley Hotel in London.
He was said to have found them "alluring and intrigued by the dramatic effect".
But senior health and safety officer Peter Lord, who visited the bar in May 2012, said he had concerns about the drinks and sent a letter with guidance on liquid nitrogen usage, which was met with no response.
The family-run bar's barrister Kevin McLoughlin said the family had been left "mortified" and apologised to Miss Scanlon and her family for the "errors and misjudgements that were made".
He said: "The company and the family are truly sorry. At no time did they see anything warning them of the risks of ingestion.
"The essence of this calamity was the ignorance on the part of the company."