Christmas Light Switch On Chaos Left Security Officer Haunted by Memories

Stafford Man Trampled By Concert Crowd Achieves Justice Against Council

30.01.2014

A security guard from Stafford who was trapped under a fence and trampled on by a crowd of people during the 2009 Christmas light ‘switch on’ event in Birmingham, has spoken out about his horrifying ordeal after receiving a settlement for his injuries.

Barry Dewhurst, 44, instructed specialist legal experts at Irwin Mitchell after being left with severe bruising all over his body, including his spine, following an incident in November 2009 whilst working as a security officer during the ‘Switch on’ of the Christmas Lights at Millennium Point, Birmingham.

The Stafford man, who was employed by Kingdom Security Ltd at the time, was given the task of supervising the main gate of Birmingham’s big Christmas event, which featured pop acts including JLS, Sugababes and Alexandra Burke, attracting over 20,000 people.

As the event went on, large crowds gathered outside the entrance and were only held back by fencing, organised by Birmingham City Council. The sheer force caused by the volume of people pushed the fencing over, which was not secured to the ground, on top of Barry.

People began to climb over the fence with the security guard still trapped underneath but fortunately he managed to free himself after a few seconds avoiding a potentially fatal injury. 

Although injured and feeling pain all over his body, his adrenaline took over and showed bravery and dedication to his job as he managed to pull a young girl out the way who had been knocked unconscious and hand her over to police.

Following the chaos, organisers called an emergency meeting and closed the event as some attendees had to go to hospital and many others were treated at the scene for their injuries.

After a few days, the pain was too severe for him to cope with and went to see his doctor, who confirmed he had suffered multiple soft tissue injuries which included the spine and would require physiotherapy treatment to repair the damage.

Unfortunately for Barry, it wasn’t just the physical damage that he had to recover from as he developed psychological injuries in the form of depression which included nightmares about the incident and horrific flash backs.

Specialist injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have now secured a £7,000 settlement for Barry from Birmingham City Council and Kingdom Security, despite denying liability for his injuries.

Nicola Meese, a personal injury expert at Irwin Mitchell representing Barry, said: "What was supposed to be an exciting event in the Birmingham calendar year, sadly descended into total chaos.

"The event attracted a high number of people and the venue and the surrounding fencing couldn’t take the pressure that was put upon it.

"Barry’s life has been significantly affected both mentally and physically and unfortunately the mental scars may never fully heal. We hope the settlement he has received can go towards making up for the time he had off work recovering and hopefully a much better Christmas this year round.”

Speaking of his ordeal, Barry said: "It all happened so fast but I remember freeing myself and then trying to help others who were injured, including an unconscious young girl. After the adrenaline wore off, the pain that went through my body was agony.

"I needed quite a bit of time off to recover but I have suffered psychologically as well. There have been many nights where I have been haunted by nightmares and I have struggled with depression since.

"Thankfully now I feel much better physically although I now struggle with most sports because the pain starts when I play.

"If the organisers would have had a more secure form of fencing, then the crowd probably wouldn’t have been able to force through. I just hope they have learnt lessons from this and hopefully it will never happen again."