Supermarket fined over shopper's death

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A supermarket was fined £10,000 for health and safety failures today after an elderly shopper banged her head on a faulty milk display and later died.

Olive Marsay, 88, slipped backwards after striking her forehead on a metal bar in the Morrisons store in Redcar, Cleveland, and injured the back of her head in the fall which happened in May 2006.

She died from a brain haemorrhage in hospital weeks later, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Redcar and Cleveland Council brought a prosecution against Morrisons for failing to ensure the public's safety and for failing to maintain equipment in good order.

The company admitted the charges at an earlier hearing.

The court heard how milk was displayed in wire cages, with a metal barrier locking them in place. It could be lifted to head height to allow fresh stock to be wheeled in.

But in the Redcar store, the metal barrier hydraulic arm was faulty and would not retain its height when stock was being replenished.

Mrs Marsay, from Marske, was hurt while fresh milk was being brought in by a member of staff, despite the employee warning her to mind her head.

The court heard staff had tried to have the faulty barrier fixed in August 2005, but the repair failed.

Prosecuting, Ruth Cranige said: "This incident was avoidable.

"The defendant knew the milk barrier was not working properly and ought therefore to have repaired it or had it replaced."

Miles Bennett, defending, apologised to Mrs Marsay's family on behalf of Morrisons.

Outside court, her grandson Martin Waller said: "That is the first occasion that anyone from Morrisons has expressed any kind of contrition.

"We are upset and disappointed that it has taken until now for that.

"She was full of life and she had a lot of life left in her."

Judge Peter Fox, the Recorder of Middlesbrough, fined the firm £10,000 for the breaches and ordered it to pay £13,327 costs.