Evha Jannath’s death at Drayton Manor was an “utterly tragic waste of a young life”, the judge says.
The former operator of a theme park has been fined £1m after a girl died on a ride, but the penalty will never be paid as it is in administration.
Evha Jannath, 11, was on the Splash Canyon rapids ride at Drayton Manor during a school trip in May 2017 when she was “propelled” into the water.
Evha, who could not swim, fell from the boat at the park in Tamworth, Staffordshire, when it hit a barrier.
In 2019 an inquest jury concluded she died accidentally.
During a sentencing hearing at Stafford Crown Court on Thursday, Mr Justice Spencer said: “This was an utterly tragic waste of a young life.”
He added there was “no prospect of the fine being paid” given the company operating the park at the time had since gone into administration.
The park has been sold to Looping Group, which runs attractions in Europe and the UK including West Midland Safari Park and Pleasurewood Hills.
“It is important that lessons are learned and the seriousness of the defendant company’s failing in this case is marked by an appropriate punishment,” Mr Justice Spencer said.
Drayton Manor Park Ltd previously admitted a breach under Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act, after the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) brought the prosecution.
The park had a history of failings on the same ride before the death of Evha, from Leicester, the court was told during the two-day hearing.
At the start of the hearing on Wednesday, James Puzey, barrister for the HSE, told the judge the accident had happened “in context of the systemic failures of safety on this ride”.
“The control measures they had were failing every day,” he added.
Between 2011-2013, park records show there were four instances of people falling into the water at the ride before it was closed following Evha’s death.
One of the incidents was in 2013, when 10-year-old Patrick Treacy fell into the Splash Canyon attraction and had to be rescued by a member of the public.
Evha, who was on an end-of-year school trip with Jameah Girls Academy, was unsupervised on the ride and at times, along with other pupils, was standing up.
Mr Justice Spencer said: “The public and Evha’s family must not be led to think that this serious offence, which resulted in the death of a child, can properly be met by only a nominal [financial] penalty.
“In my judgment it would be wholly inappropriate to do other than impose the fine which the offence merited,” he added.
“No sentence of the court can begin to reflect the tragedy of this case for Evha’s family.”
Victim impact statements from Evha’s father and brother were not read out to the court but Mr Puzey spoke of the “devastating impact” on Evha’s family.
“She was a bright and promising student who had spoken of wanting to become a teacher herself,” he said.
Richard Matthews QC, representing Drayton Manor Park Ltd, told the hearing the park had co-operated with the HSE investigation fully and had no previous convictions.
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