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Last Updated: Friday, 28 September 2007, 13:36 GMT 14:36 UK
Head fined after boy's fatal fall
Kian Williams
Kian Williams, aged three, was hurt jumping from a step
A headteacher has been ordered to pay 20,000 for breaching health and safety laws after a three-year-old boy fell from steps and later died in hospital.

James Porter, 66, who owns Hillgrove, a private school in Bangor, Gwynedd, had been found guilty at Mold Crown Court.

The trial heard kindergarten pupil Kian Williams from Bethesda had been playing "Batman" when he jumped and fell.

He died in August 2004 from an MRSA infection, a complication of the head injury he suffered a month before.

A judge at Mold Crown Court fined Porter 12,500 and ordered him to pay 7,500 costs.

He has lodged an appeal against the conviction, which his defence team said would affect schools the length and breadth of the country.

James Porter
Hillgrove School is a labour of love for him and his wife Sylvia
James Porter's solicitor

During his trial, the jury heard how Kian had been allowed unsupervised access to the steps at the school, which exposed him and the 10 other three and four-year-olds in the kindergarten class to a risk to their health or safety.

A health and safety expert told the court the boy's fall was like "falling from the arm of a domestic settee".

The jury was told there had been only one teacher on duty supervising 59 pupils when the incident happened during the morning break.

The prosecution said more staff should have been on duty, and there was no reason why a gate erected following the accident in July 2004 could not have been put up before.

Porter, who owns and is head teacher of the school, had denied breaching health and safety laws.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated Kian's death and said they identified shortfalls in the levels of supervision for pre-school aged children at the school.

After the case, principal inspector Steve Scott said play was "absolutely essential" to children's development, but there had to be a balance between risks and benefits, with very small children not "being left effectively unsupervised".

Hillgrove School
Kian Williams had been at Hillgrove School for two terms

He said: "This case is not about restricting play for children at school, nor should head teachers be concerned that this case means they will face enforcement action as a result of everyday incidents which often happen to children."

Defence solicitor Steffan Groch read a statement saying that Porter and his wife regretted all that had happened, but thanked the judge for noting that Hillgrove has "an enviable safety record" and that his failure was an "isolated lapse".

"Mr Porter maintains that an adequate level of supervision was maintained without trying to follow each child around the playground," said Mr Groch.

He said the "inexcusable delay" by the HSE in bringing the prosecution had affected the Porters.

"Hillgrove School is a labour of love for him and his wife Sylvia," said Mr Groch.

"The penalty is a harsh one for someone who has not built up any meaningful savings as a result of his chosen profession and dedication to the pupils."

VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
The judge praised the parents' dignified attitude



SEE ALSO
Head warning after guilty verdict
01 Aug 07 |  North West Wales
Head guilty over boy's fatal fall
31 Jul 07 |  North West Wales
Boy tumbled 'like fall from sofa'
27 Jul 07 |  North West Wales
Head: "Fall pupil out of bounds"
26 Jul 07 |  North West Wales
Fall school safety record 'good'
25 Jul 07 |  North West Wales
MRSA 'killed boy, 3, after fall'
24 Jul 07 |  North West Wales
Head accused after death of pupil
23 Jul 07 |  North West Wales

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