Anna Ryder Richardson's husband admits zoo safety breaches

Television presenter Anna Ryder Richardson broke down in tears in court on Monday when she was cleared of blame for the falling tree that injured a toddler and his mother at her wildlife park.

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A zoo owner has admitted health and safety offences after a falling tree seriously injured a boy, while charges against his TV presenter wife Anna Ryder Richardson were dropped.

Colin MacDougall pleaded guilty to four counts after the incident in August 2010 at Manor House Wildlife Park, Pembrokeshire.

Gruff Davies-Hughes, three, was injured, and his mother was also hurt.

MacDougall will be sentenced at a later date, Swansea Crown Court heard.

Start Quote

Anna Ryder Richardson's day-to-day involvement with this part of the company was far less significant than MacDougall's”

End Quote David Morgan prosecuting

Following the incident, Gruff spent three days in intensive care while his mother Emma Davies-Hughes, now 30, suffered injuries to her head, leg, pelvis, and arm.

The prosecution decided it was not in the public interest to proceed with the case against Ms Ryder Richardson because she had no involvement with tree management on the park in St Florence near Tenby.

The court heard that MacDougall was "more responsible" for the safety and upkeep of the hundreds of trees at the zoo.

David Morgan, prosecuting, said: "A three-year-old boy and his mother were injured as a consequence of a tree falling.

Emergency services at the scene Emma Davies-Hughes and her son Gruff, three, were airlifted from the scene to hospital

"There is evidence to link a breach of health and safety laws with that incident. It is unclear whether a proper regime would have prevented it.

"Anna Ryder Richardson's day-to-day involvement with this part of the company was far less significant than MacDougall's."

Ms Ryder Richardson had denied breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 but her husband pleaded guilty to four charges - two in his own name and two in the company Manor House Wildlife Ltd.

She broke down in tears and had to be comforted by her husband standing next to her in the dock.

Emergency services

Ben Compton, defending Ms Ryder Richardson, said: "There is no evidence at all to link her with any form of tree management at this wildlife park.

"It has been a long two years for her. You will see the effect on her in the dock."

Christian Du Cann, defending MacDougall, said: "It has been a difficult year for them."

At the time of the incident, Ms Ryder Richardson was said to be "devastated" as emergency services struggled for two hours to free the injured mother and child.

They were taken by air ambulance to Morriston Hospital in Swansea.

The park was investigated by Pembrokeshire council who decided to prosecute the couple.

Ms Ryder Richardson, best known for her role in the BBC show Changing Rooms, and her husband moved into the Manor House Wildlife Park four years ago.

MacDougall, who had previously pleaded not guilty, will be sentenced at a later hearing.

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