THE firm that runs Warwick Castle has been fined £350,000 for breaking health and safety laws after a grandad fell to his death from a bridge at the tourist attraction.
Retired mechanic George Townley, aged 72, from Berkswell, near Solihull, fell 14 feet into a dry moat four years ago.
He suffered head injuries died in hospital the following day.
Merlin Attractions Operations Ltd, which runs the castle, had previously pleaded not guilty to two charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act, but the firm was yesterday found guilty on both counts at Warwick Crown Court.
The company was also ordered to pay £145,000 prosection costs.
After the verdict, a spokesman for Warwick District Council, which carried out the prosecution, said: “This company was made aware that there was a risk of falling from the bridge on two separate occasions before the fatal accident.
“Mr Townley’s accident was foreseeable and would not have occurred if Merlin had undertaken a suitable and sufficient risk assessment.
“The council believes that would have identified the need to provide barriers to the sides of the bridge to prevent people falling into the moat.
“I hope this successful prosecution will draw the attention of operators of sites open to the public to the need to undertake proper risk assessments to protect visitors.”
A statement from Warwick Castle after the verdict read: "Warwick Castle is very disappointed at the outcome of this hearing.
"Our whole business culture is based on providing a safe and enjoyable day out for all our visitors, and we take that responsibility very seriously.
"We employ the highest possible standards, and have stringent and robust risk analysis and health and safety procedures in place across our business.
"These are regularly reviewed by our own team together with input from independent experts including highly experienced heritage architects, the local authority, the Environmental Health Officer, and English Heritage, in line with new information/requirements.
"Most importantly, the bridge from which Mr Townley fell has formed one of the entrances to Warwick Castle for at least 200 years. Since 1978 more than 20 million people have visited the Castle and many will have crossed this bridge at least once during their visit, without a single reported accident, near miss or complaint of any nature.
"We will therefore now review the findings of the case and decide what further action it would be appropriate to take."