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NORWICH INSTALLER GUILTY OF HEALTH & SAFETY BREACH IN FATAL GATE ACCIDENT - MANSLAUGHTER RETRIAL MAY FOLLOW

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A man has been found guilty of a health and safety breach after an iron gate he fitted fell on a woman leading to a fatal heart attack.

Jill Lunn, a 56-year-old grandmother, died in April 2013 when the remote control gate at her home in Field Lane, Blofield Heath, failed and she went to open it manually.

Mrs Lunn suffered a heart attack and was found by a passing horserider.

Robert Churchyard, 51, of Turner Road, Norwich, installed the gate and had gone on trial at Norwich Crown Court having denied gross negligence manslaughter and breaching a general duty of care in his work.

But after deliberating for 14 hours and 15 minutes the jury of eight women and four men found Churchyard unanimously guilty of breaching a general duty of care in his work.

The jury were unable to reach a verdict on the first count of manslaughter and were discharged from their duty on that count by Judge Anthony Bate.

Andrew Jackson, prosecuting, said he would need time to consider whether they would be seeking a retrial on the manslaughter charge.

Judge Bate adjourned the case until October 17 when it was expected a decision would be made over whether there would be a retrial or the matter would proceed to sentence.

As previously reported, Automated Garage Doors and Gates Ltd admitted three counts of failing to comply with a requirement under the Supply of Machinery (Safety) regulations at an earlier hearing.

Churchyard and Automated Garage Doors and Gates Ltd will be sentenced together.

The trial had heard that Mrs Lunn had lived in an annex at the Blofield Heath property owned by her daughter Jane Shannon, son-in-law Christopher Shannon and their daughter.

The court heard that Churchyard, a married father-of-two who had never been interviewed by the police before, had worked for Automated Garage Doors and Gates Ltd for about 23 years and had previously worked for an associated company.

He had fitted both swing and sliding gates previously, and the gate in question had been a sliding gate which had a bottom slider.

It had been installed in March 2013 and Churchyard told the court that he fitted two stops on the track for the gate and that he had tested the stops to make sure they were effective.

After the gate was installed, Churchyard returned to the property on March 26 to resolve a problem with the gate not shutting.

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