Southport firm fined over biker's wire collision

Southport firm fined over biker's wire collision 25617

A Southport firm has been heavily fined after admitting it was responsible for a teenage motorcyclist's death.

Ryan Acaster, aged 17 and from Chorley, was riding his 110cc off-road bike with some friends in the middle of July 2008 when the incident happened.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that Ryan was excited to use his motorcycle with his compatriots and enjoyed getting out into the countryside. 

But JA Jones and Sons (Churchtown) - a tenant on the Hesketh country estate in Crossens - did not want people using its tracks for offroading and erected a wire between two trees to stop people using its property for this purpose.

While the company had every right to prevent access to its land, there were no visible signs warning bikers to stay off the dark lanes, as a no access sign had been discarded into a patch of overgrowth and been replaced with a t-shirt, which was very difficult to see.

After the HSE heard about the incident, it launched an investigation and found that even though Ryan was only travelling 20 miles per hour, the cable was tight enough to cause him fatal head injuries.

JA Jones and Sons (Churchtown) pleaded guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £50,000 and told to pay £50,209 in prosecution costs because of the severity of its failure.

Commenting after the trial, HSE inspector Lisa Bailey said: "Ryan's tragic death at such a young age could have been avoided if JA Jones and Sons had thought more about the potential consequences of erecting the cable.

"It was strung between two trees in a dark, wooded area part of the way down the track, which made it difficult to see for anyone travelling towards it."

Ms Bailey added that the company should have installed a proper barrier so that lives wouldn't have been put in danger.

By Francesca Witney