Burnley boy’s canal death tragedy: firm charged

Floral tributes for Robbie Williamson (11) who died last April after falling off the canal bridge on Lowerhouse Lane.

Floral tributes for Robbie Williamson (11) who died last April after falling off the canal bridge on Lowerhouse Lane.

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A major utility company has been charged with an alleged health and safety breach following the death of a Burnley schoolboy last year.

Shuttleworth College pupil Robbie Williamson (11) died on April 22nd last year after falling from a pipe while playing with friends on a canal bridge.

He slipped from a gas pipe attached to Dugdale Bridge along the Leeds Liverpool Canal in Lowerhouse Lane and hit his head on the bank before falling into the water.

Robbie was pulled from the water by nearby resident Peter Graham, but later died in hospital.

East Lancashire Coroner Mr Richard Taylor recorded a conclusion of accidental death following an inquest in March, and raised concerns over the ease with which children can access such pipes.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive into the tragedy has led to the charge being made against National Grid.

It is alleged that on or before April 22 2014, National Grid Plc., failed to discharge a duty imposed by health and safety legislation, with regards to “the conveyance of natural gas”.

The legislation covers ensuring “as was reasonably practicable” the health and safety of others by preventing the risk of injury by falls from the bridge.

If convicted by magistrates, National Grid Plc could be fined up to £20,000, or could face an unlimited fine if the case is sent to Crown Court.

Defence solicitors representing the London-based utility company requested an adjournment during a brief hearing at Burnley Magistrates Court on Friday August 7th. The case has been adjourned until September 11th,