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Logistics firm is fined £6.5 million over the death of schoolboy, 11

Logistics firm is fined £6.5 million over the death of schoolboy, 11, who was electrocuted at a rail depot as he tried to get his football back

  • Harrison Ballantyne died June 2017 after gaining access to freight train terminal
  • He climbed on top of stationary freight wagon and received fatal electric shock 
  • WH Malcolm Ltd was sentenced to a £6.5 million fine at Crown Court on Friday 

A company has been fined £6.5 million following the death of an 11-year-old boy who was electrocuted at a rail depot, a regulator said.

Harrison Ballantyne died in June 2017 after gaining access to Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal in Northamptonshire to retrieve a football.

The boy climbed on top of a stationary freight wagon and received a fatal electric shock from an overhead line.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Harrison Ballantyne died in June 2017 after gaining access to Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal in Northamptonshire to retrieve a football

Floral tributes to Harrison have been left in the area where he suffered the electrical burns

Floral tributes to Harrison have been left in the area where he suffered the electrical burns

Emergency services attended this area after the 11-year-old boy was electrocuted at the site

Emergency services attended this area after the 11-year-old boy was electrocuted at the site

WH Malcolm Limited, operator of the depot, was sentenced to a £6.5 million fine at Northampton Crown Court on Friday after being found guilty of health and safety failings, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) said.

It is one of the most severe punishments handed out following an ORR prosecution.

The court heard that the company failed to assess the risk of unauthorised access to the depot, according to the regulator.

The ORR’s chief inspector of railways Ian Prosser said: ‘Our thoughts remain with Harrison’s family and friends.

‘It is only right that WH Malcolm are held to account for failing to prevent unauthorised access and for failing to manage the risks in what should have been an entirely avoidable tragedy.

‘The railway industry has done some excellent work in preventing trespass and educating children about the risks, but this case serves as a reminder that should access to the railway not be properly controlled, serious events like this occur.’

It is thought the boy may have jumped up on to an engine and hit overhead cables while trying to retrieve a football, but his death at the site (file picture)

It is thought the boy may have jumped up on to an engine and hit overhead cables while trying to retrieve a football, but his death at the site (file picture) 

Dave Warner, 30, who lives in the nearby village of Crick, said: ‘Harrison was apparently trying to retrieve a football when he was electrocuted.

‘God only knows what he was doing in the rail depot, it’s in the middle of nowhere really but there are fields at the back of the depot so maybe he was playing in there.

‘My local paperboy is best friends with Harrison. I’m told a group of them all walked along a bridleway on their way to Kilsby.

‘The rail line runs next to the bridleway so he must have strayed onto that. It’s tragic and a real cloud has descended over the village.

‘From what people have said in the village, Harrison was a lovely, funny and popular lad. It’s so awful his young life was just snuffed out just like that.’ 

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