Inflatable sculpture deaths: jury discharged

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The Independent Online

The jury in the trial of an artist accused of killing two women when his inflatable sculpture blew away failed to reach verdicts today.



Maurice Agis, 77, faced manslaughter charges at Newcastle Crown Court after his Dreamspace artwork took off at Riverside Park, Chester-le-Street, County Durham in 2006.

Claire Furmedge, 38, and Elizabeth Collings, 68, died and 27 others were injured when the PVC structure took off.

After more than 11 hours' deliberation the jurors could not reach verdicts and were discharged by Mrs Justice Cox.

However, Agis was found guilty yesterday of breaching health and safety rules.



A decision on whether to hold a retrial will be made at a later date.

Paul Sloan QC, prosecuting, told the judge: "I would like a little time for the dust to settle before we have a round table meeting."

Agis held his head in his hands after the jury foreman said the panel could not reach a verdict.

His Spanish partner Paloma looked disconsolate in the public gallery, and was comforted by the defendant.

He will be sentenced at a later date for the health and safety breach along with Chester-le-Street Council and Brouhaha International, an event company which staged the spectacle, whose executive director Giles Agis is the artist's son.

The artist left court today without speaking to reporters.