Welwyn Garden City high ropes trial fails to start

PUBLISHED: 11:22 01 May 2015 | UPDATED: 11:22 01 May 2015

High Ropes course

High Ropes course

Archant

A trial into alleged failings at Welwyn Garden City’s never-opened high ropes course fell apart last week, when a court heard there were not enough jurors to try the case.

High Ropes courseHigh Ropes course

Although proceedings opened on Monday, with Welwyn Hatfield Council prosecuting two companies over alleged safety failings, the trial descended into confusion.

It is not known when the case will resume.

Following the ruling, a statement from Welwyn Hatfield Council said the authority was “extremely disappointed”.

In bizarre scenes at St Albans Crown Court, it was ruled there were insufficient jurors to try the case.

The case was expected to last up to a month, meaning too many jurors got excused.

Charges were made as a result of a serious fall in June 2013, which saw Caroline Mayger fall from the course, pictured right, which Welwyn Hatfield Council ploughed £500,000 into.

It happened at a preview event for councillors and staff, and the course has still not opened to the public.

Between them Welwyn Hatfield Leisure Limited, trading as Finesse Leisure, and Closer to the Edge Limited, face five counts of breaching health and safety regulations, which they deny.

Before the jury was excused Judge John Plumstead, sitting at St Albans Crown Court, told them a few brief details of what the case was about.

He said high ropes courses “have to be run properly” and “the allegation here is that this one wasn’t”.

“A lady plummeted to the ground and got badly hurt,” he said.

And he told them their job would be to determine whether it happened as a result of failings by the defendants.

The indictment revealed the injured woman’s name to be Caroline Mayger.

Ms Mayger injured her pelvis in a fall from the zip line at the 40ft £500,000 taxpayer-funded high ropes course.

The Stanborough Park feature has never opened, despite being constructed two summers ago.

No new date has been fixed for the trial.

A statement from Welwyn Hatfield Council said: “A decision was made today (Tuesday) by St Albans Crown Court to discharge the jury involved in the High Ropes case.

“We are extremely disappointed by this decision and the delay in proceedings until March 2016.”


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