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Dreamspace tragedy families angry over reduced fine for Maurice Agis

Court of Appeal reduces fine for Dreamspace artist

Photo of Dreamspace: icliverpool

13 August 2009

The Court of Appeal in London has reduced the penalty awarded against Maurice Agis under the Health and Safety at Work Act from £10,000 to £2,500. Agis is the creator of Dreamspace, an inflatable art installation that broke free of its restraints and lifted from the ground at a park in Chester-le-Street in July 2006. In the process two women were killed. Numerous other visitors were injured, among them Rosie Wright, then aged three, whose life was saved by a passing anaesthetist and an air ambulance crew who flew her to hospital.

Sally Moore, head of the personal injury department at Leigh Day & Co, has represented the families of the two women since the tragedy. The news from the Court of Appeal has left the families of the dead women distraught.

Gary Furmedge, husband of Claire, one of the women who died, said:

“My family and I are upset and extremely angry about the Court’s decision to uphold Maurice Agis’ appeal, but most of all we feel let down: let down by the Crown Prosecution Service whose management of the criminal trial failed to gain a manslaughter conviction against Maurice Agis; let down by the judicial system for allowing an appeal against a wholly inadequate original sentence; and let down by the judges who upheld that appeal. No one can call this justice”

Susan Campbell, daughter of Anne Collings issued this statement on behalf of their family:

“We think this outcome is a disgrace and are all very disappointed. We feel the effect on the families was not adequately taken into account. The accident could have resulted in more deaths. Maurice Agis’ actions placed hundreds of peoples’ lives at risk. Despite this, we feel all the sympathy has been given to him and not enough to the families. We are disappointed by the criminal justice system as a whole which has now kicked us in the teeth so many times we now feel we have no teeth left.”

At the criminal trial, the judge, Lady Justice Cox, had made it clear that if Mr Agis was unwilling or unable to pay the £80 per month fine, she would not hesitate in imposing a 6 month custodial sentence. At the time, the families were extremely disappointed and angry that the artist was not convicted of gross negligence manslaughter charges and now they have to deal with the fact the justice they did receive has been further reduced.

The families’ solicitor, Sally Moore, Partner at Leigh Day & Co said:

“Both families have been devastated by the outcome of the appeal. Nothing can compensate for the loss of Anne and Claire's lives, but receiving appropriate justice can help families to move forward without them. We are all amazed and shocked by the decision”

For more information please contact Sally Moore on 020 7650 1200.

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

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