Fairground Victim’s Mother Speaks Out

It’s been a long five years for Kizzy Bean, the mother of Reece Nee, who was thrown from the Orbitor Extreme ride at Stevenage’s Sonisphere Knebworth music festival in 2009. The 14 year old teenage victim suffered severe life threatening injuries and five years later he suffers from the after effects to this day.

The Health and Safety Executive investigated the incident and found a number of serious defects which had not been picked up at either the design, testing or sign-off stages. A recent Criminal case at the Crown Court fined the parties involved, with the HSE confirming that the accident had been preventable if the guilty parties had followed the proper procedures.

This meant that at last Kizzy was able to begin a civil claim and she instructed Melanie Neale, a Personal Injury specialist at leading law firm Pictons, to handle her son’s case.

The ride manufacturer Perrin Stevens and examiners Dr Martyn Lacey and Frederick Meakin were all prosecuted after pleading guilty to the safety breaches at Cambridge Crown Court.

Stevens, of Windsor, Berks, was fined £3,000 the same amount in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 6 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, while his company Perrin Stevens Ltd was fined a further £2,000 and £3,000 costs.

Lacey, from Nottingham, and Meakin, of Rutland, were each fined £8,000 and both ordered to pay costs of £10,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Kizzy Bean, Reece Nee’s mother is outraged by the outcome of the trial, which took an astonishing five years to come to court. She says “I am glad that there is finally some justice after waiting four years, I am still very bitter and angry that due to their negligence I very nearly lost my child. I understand that the judge can only fine the guilty party based on their means but I am shocked that they can carry on trading in the business after showing such incompetence, especially when a safety inspector’s job is so important to the safety of the public and one of the inspectors in question has already been found guilty of the same offence before.

“I am actually disgusted that they can carry on in the same line of work and can only hope that they realise that they cannot play with people’s lives in this manner, I had to go through two weeks of hell not knowing if my son was going to come out of the operating room alive and then watching him as he lay in a coma after as his breathing deteriorated. After all this not a single apology has been offered our way.

“I would like the public to know the dangers of travelling fairgrounds ,and that despite having safety checks carried out rogue inspectors do exist ,rendering these checks pointless. I will never forget that day and despite the fact I am hugely grateful to the surgeons for saving my son’s life , myself and my son and our family have been deeply affected by this awful accident which could have and should have been prevented”

At Pictons Melanie Neale is now pursuing Kizzy’s civil action against the defendants so that her son Reece can at last get some justice. Melanie says “ Kizzy asked me to act on Reece’s behalf last February as she had been told by the HSE not to get her own lawyer until they defendants had been charged. She does not understand why it has taken so long after this terrible accident for those responsible to come to trial.

“Although the Health and Safety Executive secured these convictions it does not provide any justice for Reece the victim so we have launched a civil claim on his behalf. We have a very strong case, especially as all three defendants pleaded guilty as charged. Had the guilty parties been responsible and had done what they are supposed to do the accident would never have happened. It’s too easy for fairground owners and designers of rides to cut corners and this presents a terrible danger to the public.

Melanie concludes ”Reece was lucky not to have been killed, but he is still suffering from the effects of this terrible accident and I am determined, along with his mother, Kizzy, to get him the justice her deserves while warning other fairground operators – and the general public who find these rides so popular – that they can’t take risks with peoples lives in order to make more money.”