Firms Fined £1.5m Over Girl's Death In Weymouth Lift Accident

15 January 2019, 15:32 | Updated: 15 January 2019, 15:34

Weymouth lift death Alexis Brown

Two companies have been fined more than £1.5 million after a five-year-old girl died when her head became trapped in a lift in her home.

Alexys Brown, known as Lexi, died from "horrific" head and neck injuries after becoming stuck between the lift and the ceiling of her home in Weymouth in August 2015.

Poole-based housing association Synergy Housing, which owned the property where Alexys lived with her family, was fined £1 million.

Maintenance contractor Orona, which was responsible for servicing and maintaining the lift, was fined £533,000.

Judge Stephen Climie also ordered both companies to pay £40,000 prosecution costs.

Passing sentence, he listed a number of failings, including a failure to ensure the proper maintenance and repair of the lift.

"In my judgment these failings, which are commented upon and largely accepted by the defendants in their basis of plea documents, must carry with them the observation made to counsel during submissions that no one should ever lose sight of the fact that this was industrial machinery operating in a domestic setting with young children present, which should have resulted in the most careful assessment of safety measures and controls at all times," the judge said.

"Each defendant has accepted responsibility through the basis of plea documents and has accepted that to some extent each is responsible for causing Alexys's death.

"Between them I am satisfied that they were wholly responsible for her death and the desperate loss to her family."

At a previous hearing both companies pleaded guilty to a charge under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Bournemouth Crown Court heard the incident happened when Alexys's older brother, who is a wheelchair user, asked her to go upstairs to get his mobile phone.

As she travelled upstairs on the platform lift, she was able to put her head through a hole in the Perspex door panel and she was trapped.

The children's grandmother, who was looking after them, heard the boy shouting and rushed to the scene. She tried freeing her granddaughter but was unable to and called the emergency services.

Firefighters had to cut Alexys free because there was no emergency key or handle to manually free her, the court heard.