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Southport firm sentenced over teenage biker's death

15-09-2013

Photo shows the area of the Hesketh Estate where the incident happened

A Southport firm has been ordered to pay more than £100,000 in fines and costs following the death of a teenager who came off his motorbike when it collided with a metal cable strung between two trees.

Seventeen-year-old Ryan Acaster from Chorley had been riding his 110cc off-road bike when it hit a 2cm-thick wire on the Hesketh Estate in Crossens on 20 July 2008. He was thrown from his bike and suffered fatal head injuries.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted JA Jones & Sons (Churchtown) Ltd. - a tenant on the country estate - after an investigation found the company had erected the cable in a dark, wooded area part of the way down a track.

Liverpool Crown Court heard (on 13 September 2013) that Ryan was visiting the 2,000-acre estate with a couple of friends to use his off-road bike on a track next to Suttons Wood.

He was travelling at less than 20 miles per hour when he collided with the cable, which was strung across the track a metre above ground. He was taken to hospital where he died from his injuries.

HSE found the wire had been erected several weeks before the incident by one of JA Jones & Sons' employees to stop unauthorised access. A 'No Access' sign was on the cable but had been replaced with a T-shirt at some point prior to Ryan and his friends visiting the estate.

JA Jones & Sons, which runs a tree farm on the estate, pleaded guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company, of Bankfield Lane in Churchtown, Southport, was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £50,209 in prosecution costs.

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