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Royal Adelaide Show ride owners fined $157,000 over child’s death, but unlikely to pay up

Royal Adelaide Show ride owners fined $157,000 over child’s death, but unlikely to pay up
July 13, 2017

The owners of a Royal Adelaide Show ride on which an eight-year-old child died have been fined $157,500, however, it is unlikely they will ever pay.

Eight-year-old Adelene Leong was killed when she was thrown from the Airmaxx 360 ride at the Adelaide Showgrounds in September 2014.

The Queensland-based company that owned the ride, C, J And Sons Amusement, and one of its Directors, Jenny-Lee Sullivan, pleaded guilty to breaching workplace safety laws by failing to maintain the ride in a safe condition.

Industrial Court Magistrate Michael Ardlie said the company already had debts of more than $1 million and had been “financially ruined” since the tragedy, while Sullivan had a minimal income.

The company was notionally fined $94,500, and Sullivan $63,000, plus a maximum compensation sum of $20,000, but will now pay just $840.

Magistrate Ardlie said he was satisfied both were unable to pay the fines because of their dire finances and therefore declined to make any order which would force them, stating “the first defendant has a debt of over $1 million and the income stream of the second defendant is, to say the least, minimal so there is simply no chance of paying the fine.”

In his judgment, the Magistrate was critical of the company's failure to register the ride's design, as required by law.

He explained “amusement devices must first have the design authorised by a regulator.

"As the Airmaxx was the first amusement device of its type to be imported into Australia, design registration was required.

"No application for design registration was ever received.

"If the design registration process had proceeded, the level of scrutiny involved might have detected some of the design flaws which were inherent in Airmaxx."

Ardlie said the investigation showed the company was aware of that responsibility.

The court heard C, J And Sons Amusement's maintenance regime was also inadequate.

Magistrate Ardlie continued “there was a failure to ensure that there was an adequate system in place for the recording of any maintenance and repair work in the logbook.

"The lack of information in the logbook meant that competent persons or regulators involved in examining and assessing Airmaxx were denied the opportunity to scrutinise the effectiveness of the restraints."

Magistate Ardlie said other omissions included failing to record injuries to other Airmaxx riders during shows in Melbourne and Sydney, continuing “there were two chests injuries, a neck injury which required a patron to be conveyed by ambulance, and a concussion.”

Magistate Ardlie said he accepted that the defendants "had a strong commitment to safety" and had acted on expert advice to try to ensure things were done properly, adding “at no point during operation of Airmaxx did they ever deliberately or knowingly set about trying to cut corners or to avoid responsibility.

"They did not appreciate issues such as design registration and entries into the logbook. They considered that they were properly organised and had staff that were properly trained.

"They now acknowledge that things could have been done better."

Magistrate Ardlie concluded “the guilty plea is an acknowledgment that the policy was not enforced and there was an ability for attendants to use their mobile phones for other purposes, which created the potential for distraction.

"The risk is obvious. If the operator and the deck attendants are not watching the device in operation, they cannot effectively operate the emergency stop system."

At the time of a SafeWork SA audit shortly before the 2014 Adelaide Show, the Airmaxx was not operational because the four primary lock cylinders were being replaced, the court heard.

Another inspector, Hamish Munro, the sole director of Safe is Safe Pty Ltd, was subsequently directed to do the inspection.

Munro and his company are facing separate charges over the ride tragedy.

Despite detailed and lengthy investigations by South Australia Police and SafeWork SA, no cause could be determined that proved why the eight-year-old was flung up to 10 metres from a carriage of the ride. She was alone in the carriage at the time of the incident.

Adelene Leong was on holiday from Malaysia hen she was thrown from the Airmaxx 360 ride at the Adelaide Showgrounds in Wayville.

During earlier court proceedings, the her mother Kim Neo Ng said in a statement her life had become meaningless and she was often in tears since the tragedy.

Image: Police cordon off a section of the Royal Adelaide Show after Adelene Leong was flung from a ride. Courtesy Twitter/Amanda Lee. 

30th May 2017 - RIDE OWNERS PLEAD GUILTY TO SAFETY BREACHES IN ROYAL ADELAIDE SHOW DEATH TRIAL 

13th May 2017 - ADELAIDE SHOW DEATH CHARGES TO PROCEED AGAINST SAFETY INSPECTION COMPANY  

14th December 2016 - NON-COMPLIANCE IN ATTRACTIONS AND ENTERTAINMENT HAS ITS COSTS

10th November 2016 - AMUSEMENT OPERATOR TO PAY $80,000 AFTER PLEADING GUILTY TO HEALTH AND SAFETY CHARGE

23rd September 2016 - SAFETY INSPECTOR’S LEGAL TEAM ARGUES LIMITED RESPONSIBILITIES IN ROYAL ADELAIDE SHOW DEATH CASE

5th July 2016 - OWNERS OF RIDE IN ROYAL ADELAIDE SHOW FATALITY ‘EXPOSED’ RIDERS TO SERIOUS HARM

15th June 2016 - RIDE OWNERS CHARGED OVER ROYAL ADELAIDE SHOW FATALITY 


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Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at www.ausleisure.com.au is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

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