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Museum fined after girl maimed

A museum has been fined £12,000 after one of its interactive exhibits maimed a little girl.

The five-year-old, from Leeds, needed three operations to save the fingers on her left hand after it was hit by fan blades spinning at 2,250 revolutions per minute.

Surgeons battled to repair the damage done to her index and middle fingers but the girl was left permanently disfigured following the accident at The Discovery Museum in Newcastle.

Museum bosses admitted a charge under Section 3(i) of the Health and Safety at Work Act at Newcastle Magistrates' Court.

Prosecutor Carol Forster described how one of the museum's exhibits was in the middle of being repaired when the accident happened on August 17 last year.

Called Floating On Air, the gravity-defying exhibit was part of the museum's Science Maze, designed to educate children in the basic principles of physics.

The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was on a day trip to the museum with her sister and grandmother when she inserted her hand into the gap left by one of the hoses, which had been removed earlier that day for repairs.

The accident could easily have been prevented had a safety grate been fixed over the hole, Mrs Forster said.

Fining the Newcastle City Council-run museum £12,000 and imposing £7,733 costs, chairman of the bench William Wright said he was horrified by the accident.

Mitigating, Rod Searl said the museum was profoundly sorry for what happened, and had spent £130,000 reviewing health and safety procedures since.

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