Princes Sporting Club, a water sports club in Brentford, Middlesex is the sixth and latest company to be charged under the Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act 2007 following the death of a young girl in 2010. The company has also been charged with a breach of section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
In addition, one of the company’s directors will also face prosecution under section 37 of the 1974 Act. Section 37 allows for a director or officer of a company to be held criminally responsible for health and safety offences where the company itself is found guilty of a health and safety offence and the offence was committed with the consent or connivance of or was attributable to any neglect on the part of the director or manager.
The case hinges around the death of Mari-Simon Cronje, an 11-year old child, who died during a birthday celebration in September 2010 after she fell from a banana boat and was hit by the boat that was towing it.
Elizabeth Joslin, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “I have carefully reviewed all of the evidence gathered by the Metropolitan police and the Hounslow environmental health department during their investigation into the tragic death of Mari-Simon Cronje. I have concluded that there is sufficient evidence to charge the Princes Sporting Club Ltd with both corporate manslaughter and an offence under section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Section 3 requires all employers to conduct their business in a way that ensures, so far as is reasonably practicable, that others are not exposed to risk. Additionally, I have concluded that Glen Walker, a director of the Prince’s Sporting Club Ltd, should also be charged under Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act.”
Joslin said Walker should be charged under section 37 of the act, adding: “I extend my sympathies to the family of Mari-Simon Cronje.”
Mari-Simon died from severe leg injuries. In 2011 the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) found that the boat driver had not seen her and that she was wearing a grey helmet which was difficult to see in the water.
Parents who were watching from the shore waved and shouted when they realised that the boat was not slowing down, but the driver did not see them, MAIB’s report said.
A friend swam over to help Mari-Simon and she acknowledged them, but soon fell unconscious and died later in hospital.
As well as this prosecution, the incident is also thought to have sparked a review of the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority, which has never included riding on towed inflatables as an activity requiring assessment or subject to the licensing regime.