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Suspended sentences after man suffers broken neck during ‘DIY’ firework display at Wirral pub

A DAD-of-two suffered a broken neck at an "appallingly badly" done D-I-Y firework display at a Wirral pub.


Gary Williams was carrying his four-year-old daughter when he was struck with falling firework debris and miraculously managed to pass her to someone else before he collapsed in agony to the ground.

At hospital he was treated for burns and discharged but returned the next day in extreme pain and a scan revealed he had suffered a broken vertebrae in his neck.

The managers of the Saughall Hotel in Saughall Massie at that time - Clinton Page and Angela Ruscoe - where the Bonfire Night event was held were both given suspended prison sentences for health and safety breaches on Thursday.

They both admitted failing to carry out a risk assessment and failing to ensure the safety of non-employees.

Sentencing 48-year-old Page and single mum Ruscoe, the judge, Recorder David Swinnerton said: "In essence the description that it was a D-I-Y amateur job on the cheap is exactly right."

He pointed out that children and babies were among the 200 strong crowd at the event on November 5, 2015, and it was expected that it would be safe and professionally done.

The victim was there with his wife, their young daughter and ten-month-old baby and he went in and out of the pub to watch the display.

As he was going out of the bar directly beneath the pub extension where the fireworks were being launched from the flat roof, and while holding his daughter, he was struck by the falling debris.

A victim impact statement made two years later revealed he had on-going pain and problems with his neck and despite physiotherapy he was still unable to pick up his young children and put them on his shoulders.

"It has impacted on his day-to-day life."

Liverpool Crown Court heard that after he was injured the £500 display continued for another eight minutes before being brought to a halt.

The judge told the couple, who had both been directors of Pagan Pubs Ltd, which owned and ran the premises: "In terms of risk assessment there had been none at all."

They had not obtained the relevant guidance for holding such an event and had not even followed the instructions of the firework boxes in relation to a safe distance for spectators, who were ten metres away and not the minimum of 25 metres.

People were going in and out of the zone and people passing by on the pavement were only five metres away.

There were no marshalls and those running the display, Page, Ruscoe and an employee were all on the roof launching the fireworks, he said.

The defendants had shown "flagrant disregard for the law" said Recorder Swinnerton.

He pointed out that 40-year-old Ruscoe used to run riding stables and Page worked in pubs adding "You were fully aware that there were laws governing firework displays."

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