South East Wales

Karolina Golabek: Firms fined after girl's gate death

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Media captionKarolina Golabek died in hospital from serious internal injuries

Two firms have been fined a total of £110,000 after a five-year-old girl was crushed to death by an electric gate.

Karolina Golabek died after safety features on the gate near her home in Bridgend failed in July 2010.

Cardiff Crown Court heard she was crushed by the equivalent of 200kg (440lbs) of pressure.

John Glen Installation Services Ltd (Swansea) and Tremorfa Ltd admitted failing to follow safety guidelines.

Karolina, who was described as a happy, intelligent young girl, had been playing with kittens when she became trapped between the gate and a pillar.

She was found by neighbours but died from serious internal injuries at the Princess of Wales Hospital, Bridgend.

The court heard John Glen Installation Services Limited and Tremorfa Limited, had not installed or maintained the gate properly.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found there were dangers with the gate structure, which left space for people to get trapped.

'Stamped with grief'

There were also insufficient safety devices to stop the gate closing when a person was detected and it had a crushing force five times larger than British safety regulations.

In a statement read to the court, Karolina's mother said: "I died when Karolina passed away. I will be stamped with grief for the rest of my life.

"I cannot stop thinking what she would be like now, what she missed and what has been deprived of."

The court heard that there had been an "industry wide" lack of proper testing of electric gates.

But following a spate of deaths in 2010 there had been major improvements.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Stuart Charles said no-one should install or work on automated gates without knowing the relevant safety standards.

"Both companies walked away from the gate leaving it in an unsafe condition. Both could have prevented this tragedy," he said.

The jury at Karolina's inquest in October 2012 recorded a verdict of accidental death, contributed to by an unsafe gate and caused by a series of failures, inadequacies and omissions to adhere to safety standards.

On Thursday, the court heard that two directors of John Glen Installation Services have grandchildren the same age as Karolina when she died, and that the entire company expressed "bitter regret and remorse" at what happened.

Tremorfa Limited, through its barrister, said it was "deeply sorry" to Karolina's mother, who was sobbing in court.

A garden has been set up in Karolina's memory, close to her home.

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