Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Guard jailed over girl's rail death

Georgia Varley, 16, was killed when she fell between a train and the platform at James Street station in Liverpool (British Transport Police)
Railway guard Christopher McGee has been jailed for manslaughter by gross negligence

A rail guard has been jailed for five years for causing the death of drunk teenager by signalling a train to move as she was leaning against the carriage.

Georgia Varley, 16, lost her balance and fell to her death between the train and the platform.

Christopher McGee, 45, showed no emotion as a judge told him Georgia had paid with her life for his "appalling disregard" for her safety. McGee was sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court where he was convicted of manslaughter on Wednesday following an eight-day trial.

The jury heard Georgia, a sixth-form college student, had been to a party near her home in Moreton, Wirral, and was heading into Liverpool with friends when the tragedy happened on October 22 2011. Georgia was three times over the legal drink-driving limit and had 0.083mg of the drug mephedrone, or Mcat, in her system at the time of her death, the court heard. CCTV showed the teenager, described to the court as "legless", mistakenly getting off the Merseyrail train at Liverpool's James Street station just before 11.30pm, and then turning around and leaning against the carriage as she realised her friends were still on board. The youngster was then seen to stagger and fall down the gap as the train moved off, before stopping after travelling around 30ft.

McGee, of Edenhurst Avenue, Wallasey, Wirral, denied manslaughter, saying he thought Georgia was moving away from the train and he did not know how drunk she was. But passing sentence, Mr Justice Holroyde said: "In my judgment, the CCTV footage is unequivocal, Georgia Varley was not moving away and she was not showing any sign of moving away.

"She only moved when the movement of the train deprived her of support and caused her to lose balance and fall to her death. I am satisfied that you merely hoped and assumed she would get out of the way when the train began to move, and on that wholly inadequate basis you took a terrible risk."

The judge added: "Much has been made on your behalf during this trial of how intoxicated Georgia was, but that did not relieve you of the duty of care which you owed to her. Your decision and your action determined whether Georgia Varley was safe from risk.

"You did not intend to kill or even injure her, but you displayed an appalling disregard for her safety, and she paid for your criminal negligence with her life."

McGee, who had worked as a Merseyrail guard since 1992, will be entitled to apply for parole after serving half his sentence, the judge ruled.

Georgia's family made no comment as they left court. Speaking after Wednesday's verdict her mother, Paula Redmond, 41, described her daughter as "wonderful" and said: "We have listened as our daughter was portrayed as being a drunken liability when, in all honesty, she did no more than what many teenagers do of a weekend - she went out to celebrate her friend's birthday."

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz