TWO former directors of a trampoline park on the outskirts of Chester whose health and safety failings led to 270 injuries in just eight weeks have been ordered to pay over £70,000.

David Elliott Shuttleworth and Matthew Melling, both 34, were the directors of Flip Out Chester, based at Chester Gates Business Park and which opened on December 11, 2016.

But from day two of the trampoline park being open, adults and children were being injured on the Tower Jump obstacle, which saw customers leaping from a maximum height of 5.3 metres (17.3 feet) into a foam and mattress pit measuring up to 1.7 metres deep, regularly unsupervised.

The Leader: The Tower Jump at Flip Out was the cause of 270 injuries, 11 of them broken backs, in the space of under two months.The Tower Jump at Flip Out was the cause of 270 injuries, 11 of them broken backs, in the space of under two months. (Image: CPS.)

Prosecutor Andrew McGee told Chester Crown Court on Tuesday, February 27, that of the 270 injuries sustained between December 11, 2016 and February 2, 2017, 11 people suffered broken backs, with three of those occurring on February 1 alone and were all taken to the A&E department at the Countess of Chester Hospital.

So concerned were senior staff at the hospital that several clinicians arrived at Flip Out to investigate the following day. They also informed the Health and Safety Executive and Cheshire West and Chester Council, and the Tower Jump closed for good later that day.

There were also 123 face-to-knee injuries from customers, while one customer broke his wrist landing on another customer in the foam pit who had broken his ribs.

Shuttleworth, of Barlaston, Stoke-on-Trent and Melling, of Spinningfields, Manchester, had previously each pleaded guilty at Chester Crown Court in November 2023 to an offence contrary to Sections 3 and 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, for failing to prevent exposure to risk.

Victims who were as young as 11 at the time gave statements to the court describing how their lives had been changed as a result of their injuries. Some were critical of the inexperienced Flip Out staff who did not appreciate the scale of their injuries, removing them from the foam pit despite having fractured vertebrae.

One of the victims said she was "fortunate not to have been paralysed", while a girl who was 11 at the time recalled her mother seeing her with a shirt "covered in blood" after she injured herself on the jump.

Defending, Mark Balysz said both defendants were sorry and "deeply regret" what had happened, adding that because of their convictions being known more widely, they had lost their employment.

Judge Michael Leeming said the sentence he passed was likely to be less than what some people thought the defendants should receive or deserve, but he was bound by the sentencing guidelines for offences of this type.

He said the par had produced a "wholly inadequate and juvenile" safety video for the Tower Jump and that people who followed the safety instructions correctly were still seriously injured.

Shuttleworth was fined £6,500 and Melling £6,300, with Shuttleworth ordered to pay £50,000 prosecution costs and Melling £10,000.

They were each handed a 12-month community order where they must complete 250 hours unpaid work.

Following sentencing, Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Cabinet Member for Homes, Planning and Safer Communities, Councillor Christine Warner said: “The statistics in this case are truly shocking.  Residents and visitors in Cheshire West and Chester are entitled to expect that public recreation facilities in the borough are safe.

“These Directors were both aware that members of the public were being injured but their approach to investigating why that was happening and therefore ensuring public safety, was negligent.

“The council is the regulator of facilities like Flip Out and has a responsibility to protect the public.  The conviction and sentence of these two individuals sends a message to all those running popular recreation facilities of any sort.”