Company sentenced after girl dies after becoming trapped in gate

Semelia Campbell Credit: PA

A company has been sentenced after a six-year-old girl died when she became trapped in an electronic gate.

Cheshire Gates and Automation Limited pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to corporate manslaughter for the death of Semelia Campbell.

The company was sentenced to a fine of £50,000 and were made the subject of a publicity order.

Judge David Stockdale QC:

"No amount of fine will ever compensate for Semelia Campbell’s loss - the value of a life cannot be measured in money. “Secondly the fine must be tailored to the defendant company’s cirumstances. Unless the company is to be driven out of business - which is not my intention - the fine must be set at a level which can be paid in a reasonable period.”

Judge David Stockdale QC

The installation of the gate was carried out by Kearns and one of his employees.

A police investigation found Kearns had personally automated the gate opening and closing mechanism.

The gate should have been automated and tested to ensure that it would stop and back off when it detected an obstruction, but the programming carried out by Kearns had effectively over-ridden the built-in safety features so the gate just kept closing with a force of more than a quarter of a ton. This meant that the gate was dangerous to anyone who used it.

Detective Superintendent Peter Marsh of Greater Manchester Police said:

“A beautiful, lively little girl has lost her life in very tragic circumstances, and her family have lost a much loved daughter and sister. I cannot begin to express the sadness and trauma that Semelia’s family have gone through since her tragic death.

In a statement, Semelia’s family said:

“No mother should have to witness their child die the way I did.

Campbell family

Judge Stockdale also said Mr Kearans had to deal with the loss of his own child due to ‘grave illness’ during the proceedings, as he outlined the mitigating circumstances:

“I note the company has expressed its remorse and contrition, which I accept as entirely genuine. "He will have felt particularly keenly the tragic circumstances for Semelia Campbell’s family of his own company’s wrongdoing.”

Judge David Stockdale QC

He also said he was ‘entirely satisfied’ that Mr Kearns had not sought technical advice from supplier, as he has claimed.

He said it was evident he ‘knew little or nothing’ of the relevant standards.