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Suspended prison sentence for pub landlord

18 February 2021

A CLEVEDON pub landlord whose health and safety failings caused a boy to suffer serious head injuries, has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Bristol Crown Court heard that Andrew Rockliffe who was running the Bristol Inn failed to ensure an inflatable slide he put in the garden was safe to use.

In a prosecution brought by North Somerset Council, Rockliffe, 51, of Cannons Gate, Clevedon, pleaded guilty to a health and safety breach as an employer.

He was given a ten-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months. He was ordered to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work and pay a £140 victim surcharge.

The court heard that Mr Rockliffe ran the pub from February 2016 and in that year bought a bouncy castle for use by customers which was put on a level area of ground in the terraced beer garden.

In 2018 he added two further pieces of inflatable play equipment - a low-level assault course and an inflatable slide.

In August 2018 while in the pub's beer garden an eight-year-old boy did a somersault at the top of the slide which led to him overbalance and come off the equipment and on to the ground.

He was taken by ambulance to hospital, where x-rays showed he had suffered a fractured skull. Doctors found he had other head injuries too.

The court was told that the risk assessment prepared was inadequate, the precautions on the ground were inadequate and the equipment was defective.

An investigation, carried out by North Somerset Council's food and commercial safety team, found a catalogue of health and safety omissions by Mr Rockliffe including failing to ensure that electrical cables were adequately protected to prevent access or trips; failing to put in place suitable matting that catered for the risk of a fall from height; failing to ensure that the play equipment was a sufficient distance away from unprotected areas such as steps and fencing; and failing to make sure that daily safety checks were adequate.

Cllr Mike Bell, North Somerset Council's deputy leader whose portfolio includes regulatory services said, "Health and safety regulations are there to ensure the public can have confidence that equipment such as these inflatables in a pub garden are safe. Sadly the omissions by the man running this establishment lead to a young boy suffering serious head injuries. Although he has recovered it is uncertain whether he will need further medical treatment in the future. 

"The guilty plea shows that Mr Rockliffe has taken responsibility for his lack of action and I understand that he is no longer in the pub industry.

"I would like to thank all those who investigated this incident and brought the successful prosecution. It serves as a warning to all that precautions put in place must be adequate."