Salon boss fined after fatal fall

PUBLISHED: 07:00 16 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:01 22 October 2010

A Norwich hairdresser was yesterday ordered to pay £5,000 after one of her elderly customers fell down the stairs at her salon and died.

A Norwich hairdresser was yesterday ordered to pay £5,000 after one of her elderly customers fell down the stairs at her salon and died.

Retired journalist Barbara Cotgrove, 80, fractured her skull in the accident at Karen Fisk's salon in King Street, after falling as she went to use the toilets in the basement.

At Norwich Crown Court

yesterday, Fisk, 35, of Hobart Square, appeared for sentence after pleading guilty to an offence under the Health and Safety Act of failing to ensure public safety.

The recorder, Mr Ian Foster, told her to pay £2,500 in fines at a rate of £75 a week, and £2,500 in costs.

The court heard that Mrs Cotgrove, who used to work for the EDP, had visited Fisk's Shovelhead salon several times at previous locations in the city, but had never been to the King Street salon before.

She arrived 10 minutes early and went to use the toilet, in the basement below the main salon.

John Morgans, prosecuting for Norwich City Council, said: “There were a number of people in the salon but none of them saw what happened.

“There was a noise and the

defendant herself went over and saw Mrs Cotgrove lying at the bottom of the stairs, her hip touching the wall and her legs lying up the first few stairs.”

She was taken to hospital and died later the same day.

Mr Morgans said the accident

would not have happened if Fisk

had not installed a toilet in the basement, in defiance of building regulations.

“No permission was sought, no one was notified.

“If they had been, then the subsequent investigation by the building regulations team would have pointed out the particular problems with the stairs.”

The concrete steps were uneven, steep, and winding with no guard around them and no handrail.

Fisk herself was aware of the problems and used to warn people to take care on the stairs.

Michael Clare, mitigating, said that the toilet was not intended for customer use, although people could use it if they specifically asked.

He said: “This was a very unfortunate accident but nothing in the way of harm was intended.

“No one was trying to line their pockets by cutting corners, nothing like that.

“Here was someone who wouldn't have dreamed of putting anyone in danger, deliberately or recklessly.

“The defendant herself is distraught and shocked by what happened.”

The recorder was given a copy of an EDP article in which Mrs Cotgrove's family said they had no hard

feelings against the defendant, and said he was delighted at the family's attitude.

He told Fisk: “What happened in your shop must have been a dreadful experience for the family of Mrs Cotgrove and for you.

“The court bears in mind there was a death involved here and it is a very serious matter for that reason.

“I take into account there was no element of your breaching regulations in order to make a profit and I take into account that you immediately rectified it by putting a gate across those dangerous stairs.”

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