A workman has been jailed after a heavy metal gate he fitted fell on a woman outside her home.
Jill Lunn suffered a heart attack while pinned under the gate on her driveway in 2013.
Robert Churchyard denied manslaughter by gross negligence but was found guilty at Norwich Crown Court. He received a 42-month prison sentence and his employer, Automated Garage Doors and Gates, was fined £12,000.
The court heard Churchyard had fitted the gate, which weighed about a third of a tonne, at Mrs Lunn’s home. The gate was designed to be operated both automatically and manually, but it fell because safety-stop devices were not fitted to prevent it sliding off a steel track on the ground when opened by hand. When the remote-controlled mechanism failed, the court heard, Mrs Lunn pulled the gate open and it fell on her.
Door and Hardware Federation (dhf) General Manager Michael Skelding states: “This sentencing serves as a stark warning to everybody involved in the automated gate sector that they must ensure all doors and gates are checked for safety against current standards and regularly maintained by properly trained specialists. As this court case clearly demonstrates, both individuals and companies could face prosecution in the event of an accident and giving an individual 42 months’ imprisonment has set a precedent.”
Jonathan Wakerley, MD of BusinessWatch Group says: “Recent figures state that two thirds of all automated gates don’t comply with legislation and could pose a serious safety risk. We’re accredited DHF members and take the installation and maintenance of automated gates extremely seriously. If you have any concerns over the safety of your gates, then please get in touch and we’ll gladly help.”