Full heartbreaking victim statement of family of grandmother killed by falling gate at her home in Blofield Heath
PUBLISHED: 10:34 31 October 2017 | UPDATED: 11:53 31 October 2017
Archant Norfolk 2016
The family of a grandmother killed by a falling gate at her home have given a heartbreaking account of how the incident has “destroyed” their lives and wellbeing.
On Monday, the man who installed the gate, Robert Churchyard, was jailed for three-and-a-half years after being convicted of manslaughter by gross negligence following a Norwich Crown Court trial.
Jill Lunn, 56, died in April 2013, when the automatic gate fell on her at Blofield Heath, near Norwich in what the court heard was a “wholly preventable tragedy”.
At the sentencing hearing the court heard a victim personal statement from Mrs Lunn’s daughter, who told how Mrs Lunn had lost her husband three years earlier to a brain aneurism and was “rebuilding her new life” at the time of the tragedy.
The statement is printed in full below:
“The day of 17th April 2013 totally destroyed our family, our lives and our wellbeing. It has devastated four generations of the same family with grief and anger.
“The sudden loss of our perfectly healthy, beautiful, loving 56-year-old mother, sister, daughter and Nana has taken its toll emotionally, physically and financially on the whole family.
“‘Our Mum’ was our rock, the hub of our family. She was the most loving and caring person you could ever meet. If there was a competition for best Mum and Nana she would have won hands-down.
“We were such a small, close, loving family. My sister and I classed our mum as our best friend. Almost five years has passed and we still cannot believe that she has gone. We feel that we haven’t had opportunity to grieve appropriately as we are struggling to come to terms with the way in which she died.
“My sister and brother-in-law built and restored their new home enabling our mum to come and live alongside them in her own two-bedroom house, but within close, safe reach of her family.
“We hoped this would help our mum with her future after losing her husband, our dad, to a brain aneurism three years before her own death. She had begun rebuilding her new life without our dad and was excelling in her new career and spent every minute she could with her granddaughter Ava.
“The final part of making their dream come true was the house gates. This was at great expense to them, costing thousands of pounds, but this was to ensure their family were all safe and secure.
“Unfortunately this was not to be the case and in fact totally the opposite. We as a family believe that the company/installer are responsible for the fact that our Mum is not here today.
“Every day we ask what gives somebody the right to change us as individuals as this is what this has done to our outlook, personalities and attitudes. Every day we have to encounter and manage our anxiety, depression and fear we have that another member of our family can be taken in an instant.
“As a family we have to stay in close contact with each other due to the paranoia caused by not being able to get in contact with our mum on the night of her death.
“Their little girl was in the car the night of her Nana’s death. To this date I honestly do not know what sights Ava, as just a three year old, had to see. However with what she has spoken about to us, we know that she fully understands the events of the evening and knows how her loving Nana became trapped under the gate.
“She frequently states that she cannot understand why her Nana will not ever be coming back. In her own words, Nana was ‘only closing the gate’. In years to come we will continue to see the effects this day has had on Ava’s life and her parents feel that they are powerless to protect her from this.
“I know that Jayne and Chris continue to live and go through the motions for the sake of their little girl. If it wasn’t for her I’m not sure we would have survived this nightmare.
“Therefore the 17th April 2013 changed our paths forever and turned us all into different people, worrying about the smallest of problems and changing our total outlook on life. Each of us knowing that all of this could have been prevented if a job instructed by a professional company had been done correctly. If the gate had been installed with the duty of care required, our mum would not have met her fatal end at the family home.
“The dream family home is now a place where the threshold is where our mum met her death - a threshold I love to enter to see my loving family but often dread to see. It is a constant reminder that Mum is no longer here and I am haunted by images of my mum trapped. I can’t help but wonder what or if she felt or thought in her final moments. This I recognise is not healthy, however it is the reailt of the ongoing effects of mum dying in this way.
“I believe that I speak for all Mum’s family and friends that they feel cheated. I feel cheated as I never got to see her face watching me walk down the aisle, never to sit together and burst with pride as we watch Ava in her nativity or hear her laughing on one of our cosy Saturday nights in.
“I realise that ultimately it is Jill Lunn who has been cheated the most. Mum had so much more living to do. The day our Mum died a big chunk of who we are, what we lived for and our ability to care and love was taken away from us. The void she has left will never, ever by filled and we will always feel like part of our heart is missing.
“But as soon as this process is over we will have to start to grieve, and move on, making decisions on our life that have now been imposed on us through someone’s carelessness.”