Tragic death of Blofield Heath grandmother who was crushed by iron gate was “wholly preventable”, court told

PUBLISHED: 14:33 12 September 2017

Jill Lunn died after becoming trapped under a large metal gate in Blofield Heath.  Picture: James Bass

Jill Lunn died after becoming trapped under a large metal gate in Blofield Heath. Picture: James Bass

(C) Archant Norfolk 2013

A grandmother was crushed to death when an iron gate fell on her in a “wholly preventable tragedy”, a court has heard.

Robert Churchyard at Norwich Crown Court.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYRobert Churchyard at Norwich Crown Court. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Jill Lunn, 56, died in April 2013 when the automatic gate at her home in Blofield Heath fell onto her.

The gate, which weighed about a third of a tonne, was installed in March 2013, but without any stopping devices to prevent it falling if it was operated manually.

The automated gate had previously failed and was open when Mrs Lunn returned home after picking up her grandchild on April 17 2013.

Norwich Crown Court heard Mrs Lunn pulled onto the drive, with her grandchild in the car, and then tried to close the gate using the remote control.

Andrew Jackson, prosecuting, said it would not work and so she tried to pull it shutbut “tragically that third of a tonne gate fell directly onto Mrs Lunn and it crushed her to death”.

Robert Churchyard, 52, of Turner Road, Norwich, installed the gate and has gone on trial accused of manslaughter.

Mr Jackson said Churchyard, an experienced fitter, had installed the gate without any stopping devices.

The jury heard that Churchyard, who worked for Automated Garage Doors and Gates Limited, had been called out to fix the gate on March 26 2013.

He was there for “not more than 13 minutes” but still did not put any stopping device in place, the court heard.

Mr Jackson said: “That tragedy, say the prosecution, could’ve been easily prevented by means of simple stopping devices either to the gate or to the track upon which it ran.”

The jury heardthat at an earlier trial Churchyard was convicted of an offence brought under the Health and Safety at Work Act in relation to his failure to fit a stop.

But Mr Jackson said the prosecution alleged the failure went beyond a breach of health and safety law.

“It amounts, say the prosecution, to gross negligence and by that, say the prosecution, he was responsible for that which has occurred and which he could’ve prevented which was the death of Mrs Lunn.”

Churchyard denies manslaughter.

Mr Jackson said the company had pleaded guilty to failing to comply with a number of statutory regulations.

The trial continues.

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