Drayton Manor theme park operators fined £1m over death of girl, 11 on water rapids ride

18 March 2021, 11:21 | Updated: 18 March 2021, 11:30

A police vehicle at Drayton Manor Theme Park in Drayton Manor, Tamworth, where Evha Jannath, 11, drowned
A police vehicle at Drayton Manor Theme Park in Drayton Manor, Tamworth, where Evha Jannath, 11, drowned. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

Drayton Manor theme park's operators have been fined £1 million after safety failings which led to the death of an 11-year-old girl on its water rapids ride.

Evha Jannath was "propelled" from a vessel on the Splash Canyon ride at Drayton Manor in Staffordshire during an end-of-year school trip with friends from Jameah Girls Academy in Leicester on May 9 2017.

Lawyers for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), bringing a prosecution against the park for not properly ensuring the safety of its guests, said the theme park's operators oversaw "systemic failures of safety" on the river rapids ride.

Drayton Manor had admitted breaching Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Sentencing Drayton Manor Theme Parks Ltd at Stafford Crown Court on Thursday, Mr Justice Spencer said: "This was an utterly tragic waste of a young life."

The judge said there was "no prospect of the fine being paid" given the company operating the park at the time, had since gone into administration.

But he added: "In my judgment it would be wholly inappropriate to do other than impose the fine which the offence merited.

"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."

He added: "I bear in mind there are other similar rides in the United Kingdom, I bear in mind that this theme park has been sold to another operator and the staff transferred over.

"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."

The judge said no sentence could "reflect the tragedy of this case for Evha's family".

The trip was a long-standing feature for the school's Year 6 and Year 7 pupils, held "as a reward for their hard work and good behaviour".

Evha, who turned 11 just four days before the accident, "had a bright future, she was doing well at school and had said she wanted to be a teacher herself".

The judge added Evha's family, including her parents and older brother, had been deeply affected, adding her mother "is still trying to come to terms with Evha's death - they had a very close relationship".