Home Sidings DIRFT operator fined £ 6.5million for role in death of 11-year-old boy

DIRFT operator fined £ 6.5million for role in death of 11-year-old boy


THE NEGLIGENT company which operates a rail freight terminal where an 11-year-old boy has died has been fined £ 6.5million.

WH Malcolm Limited, the operator of the Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal (DIRFT) near Rugby, has been convicted by Northampton Crown Court after being found guilty of negligence following the death of Harrison Ballantyne in June 2017.

Harrison, of Crick, died when he easily accessed the depot with his friends to retrieve a soccer ball and was able to climb to the top of a stationary freight wagon, where he received a fatal electric shock from the airline.

He was pronounced dead at the scene despite the efforts of paramedics.

Following a lawsuit by the rail regulator, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), WH Malcolm was charged and convicted of “failing to ensure, to the extent possible, that people not in their service were not exposed to risks to their health and safety as a result of the conduct of their business.

The company was also found guilty of “failing to carry out an appropriate and sufficient assessment of the risks to the health and safety of persons not in their employment”.

During a three-week trial, the court learned how the ORR’s investigation found that WH Malcolm not only failed to assess the risk of unauthorized access to the terminal, but also failed to assess the risk of unauthorized access to the terminal. implement appropriate measures to prevent unauthorized access to a part of the site where there was frequent movement of freight and overhead line equipment powered at 25,000 volts.

The court also heard how the company routinely placed freight wagons under electrified lines – despite the presence of a number of unelectrified sidings – allowing close access to the high-voltage cable, which otherwise would not would not have been accessible.

In condemning the company, Judge HHJ Lucking QC convicted WH Malcolm and said: “In challenging this lawsuit, the accused has not assumed responsibility for a serious and obvious failure to allow public access to which is and was a dangerous environment.

Ian Prosser, Chief Inspector of Railways, said: “Our thoughts remain with Harrison’s family and friends.

“It is only fair that WH Malcolm should be held accountable for failing to prevent unauthorized access and for failing to manage the risks in what should have been an entirely preventable tragedy.

“The rail industry has done a great job preventing trespassing and educating children about the risks, but this case is a reminder that if access to the railroad is not properly controlled, serious events like this will occur. produce. “