Page last updated at 16:53 GMT, Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Dreamspace trial jury discharged

Maurice Agis
Maurice Agis denies all charges relating to the incident in July 2006

A jury has been unable to reach a decision in the case of an artist accused of manslaughter after his inflatable structure blew away.

Maurice Agis, from east London, was found guilty on Tuesday of breaching the Health and Safety Act.

He had denied the charge as well as two counts of manslaughter by gross negligence. Two women died in the incident in County Durham in July 2006.

The judge at Newcastle Crown Court discharged the jury on Wednesday.

Mr Agis, 77, of Kirton Gardens in Bethnal Green, will be sentenced at a later date over the health and safety breach.

Claire Furmedge and Elizabeth Collings
Claire Furmedge and Elizabeth Collings died at Riverside Park

Claire Furmedge, 38, and Elizabeth Collings, 68, died and 27 people were injured when the Dreamspace sculpture broke free from its moorings at Riverside Park in Chester-le-Street.

The jury's deliberations had lasted more than 11 hours. A decision on whether there will be a retrial is expected to be made within the next seven days.

Speaking outside the court, Det Supt Neil Malkin, said it had been a complex and lengthy investigation by police and health and safety inspectors.

He said: "That is underlined by the fact the jury have taken such careful thought around all aspects which has obviously led to the point where we are going to have to consult with the CPS with regard to a retrial.

"Ultimately, the decision will be for the CPS based on that consultation."

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