Dorset

Alexys Brown death: Housing and lift firms fined £1.5m

Alexys Brown Image copyright Brown family
Image caption Alexys Brown was pronounced dead at hospital after being freed from the lift by firefighters

Two companies have been fined a total of £1.5m following the death of a five-year-old girl in a disability lift.

Alexys Brown died in hospital after putting her head through a broken screen in the lift at her home in Weymouth on 13 August 2015.

Synergy Housing, her family's landlord, was fined £1m and lift company Orona Ltd was fined £533,000.

Both firms pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety regulations by failing to maintain the lift properly.

At the end of the two-day hearing at Bournemouth Crown Court, Judge Stephen Climie described Alexys as "beautiful" and "priceless" and said no words of the court could ever compensate her family for their loss.

Image copyright Brown family
Image caption Alexys got stuck in the lift when she put her head through a damaged Perspex door panel

Alexys died from head and neck injuries after becoming trapped between the lift and the ground floor ceiling of the house in Emmadale Close, the court was told.

The girl's older brother, a wheelchair user, asked her to go upstairs to get his mobile phone.

As she travelled on the platform lift, she put her head through a Perspex panel that had been damaged three months earlier.

'Horrific' injuries

Firefighters had to cut Alexys free as there was no emergency key or handle to lower the lift, the court was told.

Sara Lawson QC, prosecuting, described her injuries as "horrific".

Image caption The family had lived in the housing association property since 2009

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) brought the charges against Synergy and Orona, the latter firm being contracted by Synergy to service the lift every six months.

The court heard Alexys's parents, Matthew and Lorraine Brown, moved into the three-bedroom housing association property with their children in 2009, and the lift was already installed.

However, they were not given a manual and its controls did not always work.

Orona had twice quoted a price to replace the lift but Synergy did not approve the work as it was investigating building a ground-floor extension for the family.

Image caption Flowers were left outside the family home following Alexys's death in 2015

After the hearing, Mrs Brown said the last three years had been "unimaginable" but the investigation had offered her family some closure.

She said: "Despite this part of our story coming to an end, the outcome will never be what we all wish for - nothing will ever bring Alexys back to us."

HSE inspector Leo Diez said the companies had "failed in their duties".

He added: "As a result of their negligence, a wholly avoidable tragedy under horrific circumstances has occurred where a five-year-old child has lost her life and a family have been left utterly devastated at the loss of their little girl."

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