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Sainsbury’s fined £1million after ‘booby trap’ shattered disabled customer’s jaw

todayMarch 7, 2022 6

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Sainsbury’s has been fined £1million after a shopper was left with life-changing injuries caused by a “booby trap” at one store.

Prosecutors argued Patricia Crampton could have been decapitated after she went into twine stretched taut between two pillars in the car park of her local supermarket.

The Mirror Online reports how the incident resulted in Mrs Crampton needing emergency surgery and titanium plates inserted in her jaw after the twine split her mouth open.

The hearing was also told the incident at the Newbury superstore, in Berkshire, put thousands of other customers at risk.

Elizabeth Varcoe, prosecuting on behalf of West Berkshire Council, said the store had created a queuing system in the car park during the coronavirus lockdown.

This initially used high visibility, red and white plastic tape to mark lanes but when these were vandalised, the store manager opted to use thin but strong baler twine.

Mrs Crampton arrived at the store on June 21, 2020, on her mobility scooter and ran into the twine at speed, face first.

The twine caused serious injuries, said Ms Varcoe, splitting Mrs Crampton’s mouth open and fracturing her teeth, jaw and palate, the hearing heard.

Mrs Crampton was then taken to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford for emergency surgery.

Ms Varcoe added: “At one point she suffered heart failure during the operation.”

Surgeons had to implant titanium plates and screws to rebuild her jaw and palate, and Mrs Crampton still needs ongoing medical treatment.

Ms Varcoe suggested the twine amounted to an inadvertent “booby trap” which could have strangled or even decapitated someone during the seven weeks it was used.

She told the court no risk assessment had been conducted on the use of the twine to replace the plastic tape.

Sainsbury’s admitted exposing customers to danger and failing to make a suitable risk assessment, contrary to the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Kate Blackwell QC, a Sainsbury’s spokesperson, said the company had a previously spotless health and safety record with zero previous convictions.

She added that store management co-operated with the investigation and that the company had so far paid Mrs Crampton more than £31,000 towards her medical and care bills.

She told the court: “I begin by saying how sorry Sainsbury’s is for Mrs Crampton having had to suffer in the way she has.

“Thankfully this was a very unusual situation.”

Ms Blackwell added that the store manager had decided to use the twine “for the best of reasons” and said it was removed immediately.

She challenged a suggestion that Mrs Crampton could have been decapitated.

District judge Samuel Goozee responded: “Care should be taken not to sensationalise the risk.”

He acknowledged the company “had to rapidly respond to Government guidance to protect the public during a pandemic while continuing to provide an essential service to the public”.

Judge Goozee added: “A sufficient risk assessment would have identified the risks from the baler twine extended between metal posts.

“Ironically the manager’s decision to use the twine was a response to other health and safety issues that would have arisen from vandalism and weather damage.

“Nevertheless it was a decision that was inadequate. It would be a step too far to say there was a real and significant risk of death – that’s conjecture.

“But it did expose a great number of members of the public to risk.”

The judge fined the supermarket giant £1 million and ordered the company to pay £18,263.62 costs, plus a statutory victim services surcharge of £190.

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: “Safety is our highest priority and we were deeply concerned by this incident. We launched an immediate investigation and urgent steps were taken to prevent this from ever happening again.

“We are also in close contact with Mrs Crampton and continue to support her recovery in any way we can.”

Written by: thehitnetwork

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