Water sports firm pleads guilty to Mari-Simon Cronje death charge

Mari-Simon Cronje
Image caption Mari-Simon Cronje was at a children's birthday party

A water sports centre has pleaded guilty to corporate manslaughter after a girl was killed in a fall from an inflatable banana boat ride.

Mari-Simon Cronje, 11, was hit by the boat which had been towing the inflatable at the Prince's Sporting Club in Bedfont, west London, in 2010.

Her father Andre Cronje said the firm had "individually and collectively avoided taking responsibility".

The company was fined £135,000 after it accepted culpability for the death.

Frederick Glen Walker, a director at the firm, was cleared of any offences at Southwark Crown Court.

Mr Walker, from Cobham, Surrey had faced a charge under the Health and Safety at Work Act, but the Crown Prosecution Service dropped the charges against him.

The company is no longer in operation.

Fine 'every penny'

Following the hearing Mr Cronje said: "We are, and always will be, deeply disappointed by the conduct and behaviour of the boat driver, the management and the owner of PSC.

"There was no appreciation for the risk inherent from towing the children in the water. Emergency procedures were not in place. This directly contributed to Mari-Simon's death.

"They (PSC) have individually and collectively avoided taking responsibility for the substandard way this was carried out."

Judge Alistair McCreath said: "I propose to fine the company every penny that it has. I have no greater power to do anything other than impose a fine and I cannot impose a greater fine than all of its assets.

"The principal culpability was to promote this activity to take place in circumstances where there were no onlookers.

"It doesn't seem to me to be anything other than absolutely obvious that if a large group of children are towed behind a speedboat... there should be somebody on board to keep an eye on that [inflatable]."

Mari-Simon was attending a children's birthday party and was part of a group riding the inflatable on a lake at the site.

The court heard that there were several health and safety failings.

The driver, New Zealander Matthew Gibson, had no UK-recognised qualification despite having five years' experience as a ski-boat driver, and staff said there was a "lax" attitude to health and safety.

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