Hampshire YMCA centre fined after girl 'nearly hanged'

image copyrightWinchester City Council
image captionThis image of a rope bridge was shown in court, but does not feature the girl involved

An activity centre has been ordered to pay £230,000 after a girl was left hanging by her neck from a rope bridge.

A safety line became looped around the 11-year-old's neck when she slipped on the obstacle at YMCA's Fairthorne Manor site in Hampshire in July 2012.

She was hanging for several minutes before being cut down. She was put in a coma but made a full recovery.

The YMCA Fairthorne Manor Group was found guilty at trial of failing to ensure her safety.

The jury at Portsmouth Crown Court was unable to reach a verdict on a second charge of failing to ensure employees were adequately trained.

Fining the company £30,000, judge Ian Pearson said the incident "could have been fatal". He also ordered the group to pay £200,000 in legal costs.

image captionThe girl was left hanging from the rope bridge for several minutes

The girl, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was among a group of 40 pupils from a school in Chandler's Ford celebrating the end of the academic year.

The court heard staff made "pretty shambolic" attempts to rescue her from the Burma Bridge obstacle.

In the end a cable was severed and the girl dropped into the water under the bridge, along with one of two instructors who had been trying to support her.

The unconscious girl was flown by air ambulance to hospital where she was placed in an induced coma.

The prosecution said it had been "a matter of luck more than judgement she wasn't seriously hurt".

The YMCA group previously said it was "disappointed" with the verdict and described the incident as an "unfortunate isolated event".

"[The group] has a first-class safety record and takes the issue extremely seriously," a spokesman said.

Winchester City Council, which brought the charges, said it had been assured that safety measures at the centre would be tightened.

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