Director charged over electric-gate child death

A director of an electric-gate supplier is to face a charge of gross-negligence manslaughter, in relation to the death of a six-year-old girl.

Semelia Campbell died when she was crushed between the gate and a retaining wall at the Manchester housing development where she lived.

Police were called to the site in Maine Road, where they found the electronic gate was stuck fast in the closed position. After considerable efforts by the emergency services Semelia was freed and taken to hospital. She never regained consciousness and later died.

Kriston Kearns, 40, of Hazel Grove, is the director of Cheshire Gates and Automation Ltd. He will appear at Manchester Magistrates’ Court on 12 March.

Alison Norton, specialist prosecutor handling special crime in the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said: there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to charge Kriston Kearns, director of the company that automated the gate, with gross-negligence manslaughter. This decision was taken in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors.”

Following Semelia’s death, the HSE issued a safety alert, in which it warned that limiting the closing force of gates alone will not provide sufficient protection to meet relevant standards, and instructed installers to fit additional safety features to gates in public areas. The alert also reminded those in control of the maintenance of electric gates to review their risk assessments.

The HSE also requested the formation of an industry-wide trade body to develop high standards of safety for powered gates. The Powered Gate Group, part of the Door & Hardware Federation (DHF), was created as a result.