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Asda fined over car barrier death
Kenneth Farr
The youngest of Kenneth Farr's three daughters was in the car
Supermarket giant Asda has been ordered to pay 267,000 after admitting health and safety breaches over the death a man killed by a car park barrier.

Kenneth Farr, 37, of Penarth, died in May 2002, after the unsecured barrier smashed through his car windscreen at the Asda store in Cardiff Bay.

The firm admitted two health and safety at work charges brought by Cardiff Council at Newport Crown Court.

Asda was fined 225,000 and ordered to pay 42,000 in costs.

The company also apologised unreservedly to the Farr family.

After the hearing, Mr Farr's widow Helen said: "It was a mistake that should never had occurred."

Cardiff Council said the tragedy was "an accident waiting to happen".

In 2006, a jury at an inquest into Mr Farr's death returned a verdict of unlawful killing.

The two-week inquest into his death was told that the barrier, which was difficult to close, should have been locked in place with a padlock, but was not secured on the day Mr Farr died.

Helen Farr
It was a simple thing of locking a padlock, something which takes a matter of seconds. Because that wasn't done, this is why I am now widowed
Helen Farr
One Asda employee told the inquest she had problems opening and closing the heavy barrier, and that the day before the accident it had got stuck a short distance from its securing post.

Following the inquest, Cardiff Council brought a prosecution against Asda for breaching health and safety rules.

On Monday, the firm admitted the offences and apologised for Mr Farr's death.

Mr Farr, an electronics engineer, had gone to the store to buy a garden shed when he was hit on the head after a steel swing barrier was blown into the path of his car by a gust of wind as he drove into the car park.

One of his daughters, who was three at the time, was on the back seat of his car at the time of the incident but escaped unharmed.

Asda told the court that as a result of Mr Farr's death, all swing barriers had been removed from its stores.

Car at scene of barrier coming down at Asda supermarket, Cardiff Bay, 2002.
Asda admitted two safety charge breaches over Kenneth Farr's death

The court head that there had been two previous accidents before Mr Farr's death in which a swing barrier and another similar barrier had crashed into vehicles as they had gone into car parks.

The hearing was told that while Asda had known about it, and had put in place safety regulations, the staff on the ground had not made sure these barriers were secured properly.

Speaking after the hearing, Asda's corporate affairs director, Paul Kelly, said "human error" had been to blame for the accident.

"The risk assessments were in place, the issues had been identified and sadly this was a failure of human error at the local level," he said.

His widow was in court with her family for the hearing on Monday.

Speaking on the steps of the court after the case, Mrs Farr said: "It was a simple thing of locking a padlock, something which takes a matter of seconds. Because that wasn't done, this is why I am now widowed."

Kenneth Farr with his children
Cardiff Council said Mr Farr's death was 'an accident waiting to happen'

She also criticised the size of the fine.

"To a company the size of Asda a fine of 250,000 is nothing really, is it?" she said.

In a statement, Cardiff Council, said a review of the case by the Crown Prosecution after the coroner's verdict had concluded there was "insufficient evidence to justify a charge of manslaughter".

The council said after this decision by the CPS it was in a position to bring the prosecution under health and safety laws.

Senior environmental health officer Keith James said: "This was an accident waiting to happen and unfortunately for the Farr family it was Kenneth who was driving into the Cardiff Bay store at that particular time.

"It could have been any one of us or a member of our family."

VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Mrs Farr said the tragedy 'should never have occurred'



SEE ALSO
Asda faces court after car death
03 Jul 07 |  South East Wales

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