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Sports club admits safety failings after banana boat death

November 25 2013

A water sports club has been ordered to pay £135,000 after safety failings lead to the death of a schoolgirl.

Mari-Simon Cronje was killed after falling from an inflatable banana boat at Prince’s Sporting Club in Bedfont, Middlesex.

The 11-year-old, who was enjoying a friend’s birthday celebrations, slipped from the inflatable banana and was stuck by the speedboat which was towing it.

Southwark Crown Court was told there were several health and safety failings by the club at the time of the incident in September 2010.

The club pleaded guilty to corporate manslaughter but company director Frederick Glen Walker had all charges against him dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Princes Sporting Club was fined nearly £35,000 and ordered to pay £100,000 in costs.

Passing sentence Judge Alistair McCreath said: “I propose to fine this company every penny that it has.

“I have no power to do anything other than impose a fine and I can impose no greater fine than all of its assets.”

The court heard how speedboat driver Matthew Gibson had no UK-recognised qualification.

Several former employees and customers also claimed there was no one on the boat to tell the driver if somebody had fallen into the water.

The court heard the lack of an observer on the boat, the speed of the boat, it’s “unnecessary” turning at tight angles, and the colour of the equipment the children were wearing – all contributed to the incident.

The court was told parents of some of the children were watching from picnic tables when Mari-Simon fell into the water.

Two of the witnesses leapt into the river after failing to get Mr Gibson’s attention.

Mari-Simon suffered severe leg injuries and was later pronounced dead.