Dangerous slide owner fined $115k

  • 03/12/2015

The manager of an inflatable slide that collapsed and injured several children at this year's Masterton's A&P show has been fined $115,000.

Eric Mitchell Gerritsen, 51, was today sentenced at the Hamilton District Court after being convicted of obstructing a health and safety worker who was investigating the incident.

Six children were taken to hospital with cuts and bruises after falling off the 12-metre "mammoth slide" when it buckled in February, with one child continuing to suffer from an ongoing knee injury.

WorkSafe met with Gerritsen twice and requested specific information on health and safety measures in relation to the giant slide – touted as the biggest in New Zealand.

However he failed to co-operate with the inspector who was unable to complete her investigation.

WorkSafe's lawyer, Warren Pyke, who had only sought a fine of $50,000, told the court the obstruction by Mr Gerritsen was solely in his own self-interest.

He had no regard to the public interest or the interest of the children who may be exposed to harm and danger and that cuts right across the purposes of the Health and Safety and Employment Act, Mr Pyke said.

Gerritsen who declined to stand in the dock during his hearing challenged Judge Merelina Burnett, stating that the court lacked the constitutional jurisdiction to hear his case.

He moved for the charge to be dismissed as it was "a serious departure and misuse of justice, with conflicts of interest.

However Judge Burnett would not entertain his objections as she passed sentence.

Mr Gerritsen was disregarding his employment responsibilities by thwarting enforcement and regulation safety standards to prevent endangering children's health and safety.

There was no co-operation with authorities in relation to the investigation and the prosecution of the offence and no remorse shown for the offending and harm that was caused by this incident, the judge said.