Kieran Brookes death: Ski lift operator guilty of indirect manslaughter

Kieran Brookes
Image caption Kieran Brookes was on his first ski trip

A ski lift operator has been found guilty of the indirect manslaughter of a boy who died in the Alps.

Kieran Brookes, 14, from Devon, was strangled when the straps of his backpack became entangled as he tried to get off a ski lift near Geneva.

Richard Cettour, 50, of Bonnevaux, France, who was supervising the lift, was given a six-month suspended sentence.

Kieran's parents said they did not feel justice had been done.

The firm which operated the lift, SAEM Sports et Tourisme a Châtel, was also accused of indirect manslaughter but was cleared of the charge.

Image caption Richard Cettour was responsible for the safety of skiers using the lift

Kieran's parents, Nick and Cindy Brookes, said: "This has been an incredibly difficult process and yet we do not feel that justice has been done.

"We are satisfied that someone has been held to account over Kieran's death.

"However, we believe that this tragedy highlighted serious industry failings which went further than an individual's inattention.

Image caption Kieran was on a six-seat ski lift at Chatel when he tried to climb off at the top of the slope, in February 2011

"Without widespread improvements across the industry we think a similar tragedy could happen again.

"It is only a slight consolation that the resort operator has apologised to us for failings, and admitted moral guilt over Kieran's death."

Richard Cettour was responsible for the safety of skiers using the lift, but was found not to have been at his post at the time of the accident, and failed to react to other skiers who were calling for him to press the emergency stop button.

Image caption Kieran's parents, Nick and Cindy Brookes, said they had not realised the extent of his injuries until they travelled to the scene

Kieran, a pupil at Torquay Grammar School, was on a six-seat ski lift at Châtel when he tried to climb off at the top of the slope, in February 2011.

He was suspended in the air for around four minutes before he was released, according to eyewitness accounts of the accident.

Attempts were made to revive him for about eight minutes before he was taken to a hospital in Annecy, France, suffering from a severe brain injury.

Kieran was later taken to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, where he died in March 2011.


Mrs Brookes said: "We couldn't bury Kieran for six months because of the police investigation.

"We also couldn't donate his organs which was something that would have given us some comfort."

The family's lawyer Mark Montaldo, of Slater and Gordon, said: "It has been heart-breaking for Kieran's family to hear details of the very serious safety failings which led to this tragedy.

"From the outset, Mr and Mrs Brookes have been determined that lessons are learned from this incident.

"They hope that this verdict and sentence will send a powerful message throughout the industry that safety must be paramount."

The French charge of indirect manslaughter is roughly equivalent to involuntary manslaughter in England and Wales.

Image caption The incident happened in the French Alps ski resort of Chatel near Geneva

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