North East Wales

Woman's death at Tan y Craig Farm cycle event 'avoidable'

Peter Walton (left) and Judith Garrett (right) Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption Judith Garrett had been planning to move into her first house with her boyfriend, Peter Walton

A spectator at a mountain biking event was killed in an "entirely avoidable accident" when she was hit by a cyclist who lost control, a court heard.

Judith Garrett, 29, of Prudhoe, Northumberland, was watching the event at Tan y Craig Farm near Llangollen, Denbighshire, when an out-of-control cyclist knocked her into a tree.

She died of head injuries the next day.

Event staff and the British Cycling Federation have denied health and safety charges.

Event organiser Michael Marsden, of Lancaster, is charged with failing to conduct the event on 31 August 2014 in such a way that people were not exposed to risk.

The British Cycling Federation is accused of failing in its undertaking to supervise the event and sanction the risk assessment, while marshal Kevin Duckworth, of Accrington, Lancashire, is accused of failing to carry out his health and safety duties.

All three deny the charges.

Image caption Michael Marsden denies failing to conduct the event in such a way that people were not exposed to risk

Prosecuting, James Hill QC said Tan y Craig was well known as being one of the most challenging downhill mountain bike courses in the UK, but Mr Marsden had failed to carry out a proper risk assessment and had given "little or no thought" to the dangers.

He told Mold Crown Court that if attention to detail and thought been applied, it would have led them to decide the area where the accident happened should have been a "no-go area" and "an obvious place that cyclists would lose control".

"The area should have been taped off," he added.

"A healthy young woman lost her life doing no more than watching a sporting event."

Image caption Race marshal Kevin Duckworth denies failing to carry out his health and safety duties

Ms Garrett, who was standing near a series of jumps towards the end of the course, was hit and knocked backwards by a rider who lost control of his bike and was propelled towards her at speed.

She hit her head on a tree and suffered a fractured skull and a haemorrhage.

Despite the efforts of paramedics and doctors at a specialist unit at Stoke-on-Trent, where she was airlifted, she died the following day.

The court heard a health and safety investigation was started by Denbighshire council and a number of independent experts were brought in to assist with the inquiry.

One of the most worrying discoveries, Mr Hill said, was though Mr Marsden had worked at the course before and knew it well, the risk assessment for the event was "wholly inadequate".

The trial continues.

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