Nine-Year-Old Loses Finger In Gate

Loss Of Finger

31.07.2008

A nine-year-old schoolgirl lost part of her finger when it was sliced off by a vandalised park gate.

Danielle Biggs was playing in Fynamore Park, in Calne, Wiltshire, when the accident happened. She was later rushed to Swindon's Great Western Hospital for treatment.

Her mother, Maria Biggs, 38, told the Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: "Danielle was at her aunt's home playing when she went to leave the playground area.

"She trapped her finger and the tip of it was sliced clean off by some metal that was sticking out of the gate. She was hysterical and started screaming. There was blood everywhere."

Mrs Biggs, whose daughter attends Fynamore School, said the gate had been vandalised but North Wiltshire District Council had done nothing to make sure it was safe for children to use.

She said: "When I called the council to tell them about the accident and ask them to take the gate down, at first they said they had to carry out a full assessment and they couldn't remove the gate because of health and safety.

"But eventually they took the gate down and put some padding up. It is devastating that it takes an accident like this for them to do something."

A North Wiltshire District Council spokesman said the incident is currently under investigation.

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Sion Kingston from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: "A local authority has a legal obligation to ensure that they take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of all those using the playground. This duty would include having a system of regular inspection to check that the play area was free of hazards likely to cause injury.

"The frequency of inspection would depend upon the amount of usage of the area and whether the council was aware that it was subject to regular vandalism. Whether the council can be held responsible for this accident will depend on whether there was a reasonable system of inspection in place and whether the council took timely action to repair the damage to the gate. The accident is the subject of an investigation and we will have to see what the outcome is.

"If the council is shown to have failed in its obligations then a claim for compensation can be made."