On the night in question, the cannon, installed by Knowsley-based Effects.co.uk Ltd, was positioned on a raised stage area directly in front of members of the public in an enclosed courtyard.
The shot hit Ms Dollah in the face at virtually point-blank range, knocking her off her feet, and leaving her covered with blood. She sustained significant facial injuries and now has lost the use of her right eye.
The accident was investigated by Richard Parkinson, commercial team EHO at Liverpool City Council, who said, “The special effects equipment used at the event was a ‘stadium shot’ confetti cannon. It was designed, as the name suggests, to be used only in large outdoor venues and not in a nightclub. The recommended distance from the public is at least 25 meters.”
Judge Elizabeth Nicholls, at Liverpool Crown Court, described James McMahon and Tory Harper, who run Effects.co.uk Ltd, as ‘naive and cavalier’ in relation to the accident. She said, “The shot knocked a number of people over and caused serious injuries to Ms Dollah. She couldn’t eat properly and had to eat food supplements. It was a horrendous state she found herself in. Not only was there pain and discomfort, but a considerable psychological impact.”
Effects.co.uk Ltd was ordered to pay a fine of £16,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) Health and Safety at Work Act (etc) 1974. The company was also ordered to cover the legal costs of the prosecution, amounting to a further £16,000.
Peter Horgan, defending, said, “This company has taken on board what happened and has striven to ensure any repetition of such any incident will not occur.” He offered apologies to Ms Dollah on the company’s behalf.
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