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Justice has not been done say family of ski lift death boy Kieran Brookes

The family of a 14-year-old boy who died in a ski lift accident say they do not feel justice has been done, after the lift operators were cleared of involuntary manslaughter.

Kieran Brookes, from Devon, died during a school trip to the Alps when the straps of his backpack became entangled in the mechanism of the ski lift in Chatel, on the French-Swiss border.

Richard Cettour, 50, of Bonnevaux, France, who was supervising the lift at the time of the tragedy, has been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

At a brief hearing at the court in Thonon-les-Bains, eastern France, Cettour was given a six-month jail term which has been suspended.

The operator of the lift, SAEM Sports et Tourisme a Chatel, was also accused of involuntary manslaughter but was cleared of the charge.

In a statement, Kieran's parents Cindy, 53, and Nick, 50, of Bovey Tracey, Devon, said the verdict has left them with "mixed emotions".

The couple, both NHS managers, said: "This has been an incredibly difficult process and yet we do not feel that justice has been done.

"We are satisfied that someone has been held to account over Kieran's death. However, we believe that this tragedy highlighted serious industry failings which went further than an individual's inattention.

"Without widespread improvements across the industry we think a similar tragedy could happen again.

"It is only a slight consolation that the resort operator has apologised to us for failings, and admitted moral guilt over Kieran's death.

"We would never want Kieran's death to put people off enjoying activities - being outdoors and playing sports was what Kieran loved.

"But we hope that the renewed publicity in the case has raised people's awareness of the risks when enjoying their sports and recreation."

The court heard Cettour was responsible for the safety of the skiers using the lift, but was found to have not been at his post during the time of the accident, and not reacting to other skiers who were calling for him to press the emergency stop button.

Kieran, a pupil at Torquay Boys' Grammar School, was said to have been "one of the brightest maths prospects in the country", having scored 96% in a national test.

He was suspended in the air for around four minutes before he was released, according to eyewitness accounts of the accident in February 2011.

Attempts were made to revive Kieran for about eight minutes before he was taken to a hospital in Annecy, France, suffering from a severe brain injury.

He was later transferred to the intensive care unit at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital where he died on March 17 2011.

Mrs Brookes said Kieran dreamed of becoming a doctor when he grew up.

After an earlier court hearing, she said: "He was academically bright but also loved to be physically active and was a member of the army cadets. He dreamed of becoming a doctor and helping people. He wanted to be a GP.

"We couldn't bury Kieran for six months because of the police investigation. We also couldn't donate his organs which was something that would have given us some comfort."

The family's lawyer Mark Montaldo, of Slater and Gordon, said: "It has been heart-breaking for Kieran's family to hear details of the very serious safety failings which led to this tragedy.

"The judges recognised that Kieran died as a result of the negligence of the ski lift pilot but were not satisfied that there was sufficient evidence to find the resort operators criminally responsible for what happened. The family now needs time to consider the implications of this verdict.

"From the outset, Mr and Mrs Brookes have been determined that lessons are learned from this incident.

"They hope that this verdict and sentence will send a powerful message throughout the industry that safety must be paramount."


From Belfast Telegraph