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Last Updated: Friday, 2 June 2006, 18:24 GMT 19:24 UK
Man sentenced for sunbed accident
Melanie Wraith
Melanie Wraith was trapped in the sunbed for more than two hours
The manager of a tanning firm has been given a 56-day jail sentence after supplying a sunbed that trapped a customer inside leaving her with burns.

Melanie Wraith was knocked unconscious after part of the sunbed collapsed, trapping her for more than two-and-a-half hours in her home.

Terrence Howells, 51, of Rose Street, Northwood, Stoke-on-Trent, was released on bail pending an appeal.

Howells, who ran the Supertan firm, had admitted breaching safety regulations.

Ms Wraith, 35, from Leek, Staffordshire, paid 40 to hire the sunbed for four weeks to use at her home.

Terrence Howells
Terrence Howells was released pending an appeal

She set the timer for 12 minutes, but noticed part of the sunbed came on before it was supposed to.

A part then fell on her, giving her an electric shock and knocking her unconscious.

Ms Wraith came round when she vomited and was taken to hospital.

She then stopped breathing for a short time in the ambulance and had to be revived.

Spring removed

Her burns were described as superficial, but she had to spend two days at Birmingham Burns Unit.

A previous hearing was told that Howells removed a spring from the machine which prevented the canopy falling below a safe minimum height.

The sunbed seized by Staffordshire Trading Standards
A vital spring on the sunbed had been removed

Warnings on the sunbed were missing or had been painted over, live parts were not protected and timers should have had a fail safe device fitted, the court was told.

Howells had pleaded guilty to charges relating to Electrical Equipment Safety Regulations.

But speaking before the hearing he said: "I don't regret supplying it, there was nothing wrong with it."

The chairman of the magistrates' bench said Howells had put financial gain ahead of public safety.

The head of Staffordshire Trading Standards, Graham Russell, said: "The reason we took this prosecution is because this was a very serious case, the customer was put at risk and suffered very serious injuries.

"We're pleased that the court also regarded this as a serious matter."

Speaking after the hearing, Staffordshire county councillor Sandra Hambleton said: "The consequences for Melanie could well have been even worse."




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See the faulty sunbed



SEE ALSO:
Woman burned by collapsed sunbed
02 May 06 |  Staffordshire


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