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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 May, 2005, 18:31 GMT 19:31 UK
Fine over soccer rocket accident
Denise Butler being taken from the stadium
Ms Butler suffered a fractured cheekbone and nerve damage
A firework display firm has been fined 10,000 for failing to ensure the safety of a football fan who was hit in the face by a rocket.

Wolves fan Denise Butler, then 38, from Shropshire, was injured before a home game against Newcastle in November 2003 and left permanently disfigured.

A rocket was fired horizontally not vertically after a launcher was knocked over in high winds, the court heard.

Jubilee Fireworks Ltd admitted breaking the Health and Safety at Work Act.

It was simply a wrong decision on the day made in seconds
Simon Morgan, defending

It pleaded guilty to an offence under the act in relation to the incident and was also ordered to pay 6,000 in costs.

The Titanium Comet was fired horizontally from the pitch after the lid of a box covering wiring was blown into a mortar tube by the wind, knocking the launcher over, Wolverhampton Magistrates' Court was told.

Barry Berlin, prosecuting, said an employee of the firm failed to notice that the launcher had been knocked over about 15 seconds before he fired the roman candle.

The rocket hit Ms Butler, from Telford, after deflecting off fellow Wolves fan Carl Attewell, who had dived in front of his son to protect him.

It forced players running on to the pitch for the Premiership game at Molineux to duck.

'Impeccable record'

Ms Butler suffered "mild" post-traumatic stress disorder in the months after the accident, which left her with a fractured cheekbone and nerve damage.

Simon Morgan, defending, said Jubilee, based in Stallings Lane, Kingswinford, West Midlands, had an otherwise impeccable safety record, having fired almost 500,000 fireworks without incident over the past decade.

Mr Morgan added: "This was not an accident waiting to happen - it was simply a wrong decision on the day made in seconds by a man unaware of exactly what had happened."

District judge Sham Qureshi said it would have been blindingly obvious to a schoolboy scientist or any layman that the tubes could be knocked over comparatively easily.

Football fireworks face possible ban
01 Dec 03 |  West Midlands
Firework injury fan goes home
01 Dec 03 |  West Midlands

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