Operators and manager of go-kart track where 18-year-old girl was fatally injured fined more than £10,000

Suzanne Cornwell

Suzanne Cornwell - Credit: Archant

Fines totalling more than £10,000 have been handed to the operators and manager of a racetrack where a teenager was fatally injured in an accident.

Suzanne Cornwell, 18, of Hardwick, died in Addenbrooke’s Hospital, in Cambridge, after suffering severe ­injuries when her scarf was caught in a go-kart engine during an out-of-hours session at the Caxton circuit, in December 2009.

At Peterborough Crown Court ­yesterday (Tuesday), Peterborough Raceway Limited was fined £8,500 and Paul Shinn, then manager of the track, was fined £1,700. The company was also ordered to pay costs of £4,000.

At an earlier hearing, the company pleaded guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and Shinn admitted breaching Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

The judge directed a not guilty verdict in relation to Phil Meakins, who was also charged with breaching health and safety regulations.

South Cambridgeshire District Council oversaw the prosecution following a police investigation and an inquest.

Coroner David Morris recorded a narrative verdict that she died at the racetrack “when acceptable safety procedures were not then in place”.

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The crown court heard the company had a lack of management supervision, there were no mandatory risk assessments, staff were not trained and basic safety measures were not in place. Shinn had not carried out a risk assessment.

Judge Nic Madge said no casual link between the health and safety breaches and the fatal accident had been ­established, and the out-of-hours incident had taken place without the knowledge of the company or management.

The judge reiterated the importance of health and safety and said it was not a bureaucratic hindrance.

Compliance was important to prevent loss of life and serious injury, he said.

Councillor Mick Martin, the council’s cabinet member for environmental ­services, said: “This has been an ­incredibly difficult period for Suzanne’s family and our thoughts have been with them throughout.

“It was absolutely right for the council to pursue a prosecution under health and safety legislation.”

A statement released on behalf of Peterborough Raceway Limited, which no longer operates the site at Caxton, said: “The judge said that he wanted to make it clear the prosecution had not established any causal link between the offences and the tragic incident.

“He emphasised that the failings did not cause her death and neither the company nor Paul Shinn had any ­knowledge of the unauthorised racing on December 10 2009, during which the fatal accident occurred.

“Mr Meakins, Mr Shinn and the company have always from the outset maintained that the tragic death of Suzanne Cornwell was a consequence, solely, of the unauthorised activities on the racetrack on that day after it had closed for business.”