TV star Anna Ryder Richardson sobs as husband admits safety breach which put a mother and child in hospital
Monday 12 November 2012
TV star Anna Ryder Richardson sobbed into her husband's chest today after he admitted serious health and safety breaches which put a mother and her young child in hospital.
The celebrity interior designer wept uncontrollably and refused to leave his side after identical charges against her were withdrawn.
Ryder Richardson, 48, was due to stand trial this morning at Swansea Crown Court with husband Colin MacDougall, 46.
Both had previously denied the charges against them and were ready to refute the accusations over the trial's scheduled three weeks.
The couple jointly run the Manor House Wildlife Park in St Florence, near Tenby, West Wales.
Gruff Davies-Hughes suffered serious head injuries at the attraction when a heavy branch fell on him during strong winds in August 2010.
The three-year-old spent three days fighting for his life in intensive care after being airlifted to hospital.
His mother suffered head injuries and fractures to her leg, pelvis and arm.
The mother and son, from Llanelli, were among dozens of people visiting the wallaby enclosure at the time.
The admission of guilt today potentially leaves the way open for a civil claim for damages from the injured pair.
MacDougall admitted the charges he had previously denied when they were re-read to him in the dock today.
Ryder Richardson collapsed into his arms as he pleaded guilty to both offences. She then buried her head in her husband's chest and sobbed.
MacDougall also pleaded guilty to two identical charges on behalf of their joint company, Manor House Wildlife Park Ltd.
The admissions mean he and the company failed in their duty of care to people both in and not in their employment.
The two charges against Ryder Richardson were withdrawn. She was told she could leave the dock while discussions about sentencing her husband continued.
But she clung to her husband's arm and, in tears, asked: "Can I stay?"
She was allowed to do so by the judge.
MacDougall will be sentenced at a later date.
The prosecution today was due to be brought by Pembrokeshire County Council.
David Morgan, for the council, told the judge, following today's guilty pleas, there was careful consideration before the charges against Ryder Richardson were withdrawn.
He said it had been clear that she had little to do with the aspect of the company for which her husband was responsible.
Ben Compton, for Ryder Richardson, added; "There was no evidence at all to link Mrs Ryder Richardson with any form of tree management whatever at this wildlife park."
Ryder Richardson and her husband clung to each other in obvious grief as they listened to the legal debate around them.
Mr Compton told the judge: "It has been a long two years for her and your honour will see the effect on both defendants in the dock."
Judge Paul Thomas released MacDougall on unconditional bail. Sentencing is likely to be later this month.
Mother-of-two Ryder Richardson made her name alongside Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen on the BBC's popular makeover programme Changing Rooms.
In 2008 she gave up her TV career and bought the dilapidated 52-acre zoo-cum-wildlife park with her husband.
Neither she nor her husband would speak today as they left the crown court building.
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