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West Sussex

Reference Library – England – West Sussex

Workman who installed giant iron security gate which crushed …

A workman who installed a giant iron security gate which crushed a grandmother to death has been jailed1 for three and a half years.

Robert Churchyard, 52, was convicted2 of manslaughter by gross negligence over the death of Jill Lunn.

Mrs Lunn, 56, hailed as the rock of her family, was killed when the automatic gate toppled on the much-loved grandmother at her home in Blofield Heath, near Norwich. Mrs Lunn was killed in the horror incident at her own house just weeks after the gate was set up. The freak accident was a wholly preventable tragedy , the court heard.

Jill Lunn was killed when the automatic gate toppled on her

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Churchyard, of Norwich, was jailed at the city s crown court. He was also convicted of an offence under the Heath and Safety at Work Act at a separate trial. Churchyard worked for Automated Garage Doors and Gates Ltd when the tragedy happened.

The company also admitted three counts of failing to comply with a requirement under the Supply of Machinery (Safety) regulations and was fined 12,000. Churchyard fitted the huge gate, which weighed about a third of a tonne, in March 2013. But it didn t have any failsafe stopping devices to prevent it falling if it was operated manually, the court heard.

On the fatal day Mrs Lunn pulled into her drive, with her grandchild in the car, and tried to close the gate using the remote control. It wouldn t work so she tried to shut the gate manually. It fell straight on top of Mrs Lunn and crushed her to death on April 17, 2013.

Andrew Jackson, prosecuting, said the tragedy could have easily been prevented by a stopping device either to the gate or to the track upon which the gate ran. Mr Jackson branded the devastating tragedy wholly preventable .

The gate at her home in Blofield Heath, near Norwich

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In an impact statement read in court, Mrs Lunn s grief-stricken family said her death had left them devastated . They said they felt cheated she had died in such a terrible way and were still struggling to come to terms with the tragedy.

But her daughter said they felt the person most cheated was Mrs Lunn herself as she had so much more living to do . Jailing Churchyard, Judge Stephen Holt said it was an awful tragedy as he stressed: There are no winners. Judge Holt said the family s raw, emotion-charged impact statement was heartbreaking .

He said the case crossed the custody threshold and he had no alternative but to jail Churchyard, whose own family left the court in tears. Anthony Potter, defending, said he had never got over what happened. Mr Potter said: He has continued to think about what happened to Mrs Lunn on a daily basis.

It s had an effect on his health.

Her family said they felt cheated she had died in such a terrible way and were still struggling to come to terms with the tragedy

He said Churchyard, who worked for the company for 20 years, has now left and become a long-distance lorry driver. Mr Potter said: He will not return to this kind of work in the future. Philip Hackett, QC for the company, offered their profound regret and apologised for their failings.

But Mr Hackett said following the tragedy every single installation by the firm was inspected and there was no other failure. He said: It is still completely inexplicable what actually happened on this occasion. Mr Hackett said the company was a small family enterprise, had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and fully co-operated with police.

Afterwards Det Sgt Darren Reade, of Norfolk Police, said: Jill s death should never have happened.

If Churchyard had undertaken all the safety work expected of him then she would have been protected from the gate breaking in such a way.

I hope that this outcome prevents a similar tragedy from happening in the future. Mrs Lunn s loved ones told the court that four generations of their family had been shattered by her death. They said in a statement: 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.

Mrs Lunn s loved ones told the court that four generations of their family had been shattered by her death

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.

They said they thought fitting gates to Mrs Lunn s home would keep the family safe.

Unfortunately, this was not to be the case and in fact totally the opposite, they said.

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. After the case a shocked safety expert said the industry must learn a lesson from the tragedy. Health and Safety Executive inspector Edward Crick said: This case is a stark demonstration of what happens when companies do not comply with the relevant legislation relating to the safety of machinery.

The industry must learn from the tragic death of Jill Lunn so no other family suffers the same loss.

There is plenty of guidance available to help businesses ensure they put in place the basic safeguards and provide their customers with the necessary information top operate them safely.

Norfolk County Council Trading Standards Business, Food and Farming manager, Jon Peddle, said: The failings in this case had tragic consequences for Mrs Lunn and her family.

We welcome this sentence and hope this sends out a clear message to similar businesses.


  1. ^ jailed (
  2. ^ convicted (

Rolf Harris protected by masked security guards as he arrives home after he’s sneaked out of prison

Rolf Harris was flanked by three plain-clothed security guards as he returned home after being released from jail in the middle of his latest sex abuse trial. One of the bodyguards who helped Harris get out of a blue Ford car outside his home had his face covered with a mask. The entertainer, 87, avoided reporters as he slipped out of Stafford Prison in the early hours of Friday morning but was photographed as he arrived at his 5m property.

Harris – wearing eyeglasses, a denim jacket and blue jeans – exited the car and slowly walked up a set of stairs towards his home by the river Thames in Berkshire. Clear plastic bags containing personal belongings – including an Australian stamp collection, toothbrush, letters and papers – were carried into the house.

Harris is accused of using his celebrity status to molest three young fans A masked bodyguard helps Harris out of a blue car outside his home Three bodyguards escorted Harris into his 5m property Personal belongings are carried into the entertainer’s home

Harris returned home to be by the side of his sick wife, Alwen, 85, who was said to be in failing health in recent weeks. A source recently said that Harris wanted to be reunited with his wife as soon as possible .

Neither his wife nor their daughter, Bindi, 53, was seen outside the home when he arrived. Harris is on trial accused of using his celebrity status to molest three young fans, aged 13 to 16, between 1971 and 1983.

Harris will appear in person when his indecent assault trial resumes Harris, of Bray, Berkshire, denies four charges of indecent assault Harris was granted bail following his release from prison A clear plastic bag containing letters and papers

On Thursday Judge Deborah Taylor told jurors Harris would be granted bail after his release from Stafford Prison. He had been appearing in court via video-link but will now attend the rest of the trial in person.

Harris s trial was not sitting on Friday so he will attend Southwark Crown Court, South London, when it resumes on Monday morning.

A box is carried into Harris’ home after he was released from prison Two of the bodyguards who helped Harris as he returned home Harris’ bodyguards carried his belongings into his home

Meanwhile, one of his accusers insisted she was not driven by money as she gave evidence yesterday. The woman claimed Australia-born Harris twice sexually assaulted her when she was 16. She alleged Harris squeezed her breast after he appeared on ITV show Star Games in Cambridge in 1978, telling her: You re a little bit irresistible.

Harris and his bodyguards were not accompanied by the entertainer’s family Journalists gathered outside Stafford Prison as they waited for Harris to be released Harris slipped past journalists after being released in the early hours

The artist also groped her in the back seat of a car, she claims. Jurors have heard she later described him as groper Rolf and a dirty old man . Asked if she had lied, she said: I absolutely have not .

One of the reasons perhaps it was easier for me to tell police is because I have told people over the years.

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She added: I cannot imagine how anyone would conceive of doing this for any sort of kick. Harris, of Bray, Berkshire, denies four charges of indecent assault. The trial continues.

Security guard shot during armed robbery at London Nationwide bank

A security guard has been shot during an attempted robbery1 at a bank in north London.

Police2 swarmed the Nationwide branch in the High Street of Walthamstow town centre at about 3.25am this morning.

Officers had received reports a robbery was in progress. Arriving at the scene, they found a security guard, 63, suffering gunshot wounds.

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Paramedics from London Ambulance Service attended the scene and transferred the man to an east London hospital. His injuries were not believed to be life threatening.

A Met Police spokesman said: “Officers attended along with firearms officers and a security guard, a 53-year-old man was found at the location suffering from gunshot injuries.

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“His injuries are not being treated as life threatening or life-changing.

“Officers from the Met’s Flying Squad are investigating.

“No arrests.”


  1. ^ attempted robbery (
  2. ^ Police (