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dhf warns of potential legal consequences following manslaughter case

dhf (Door & Hardware Federation) is stressing the possible legal consequences of failing to ensure the safety of gates following the conviction of a gate engineer for causing the death of Jill Lunn in April 2013.  On Wednesday, Robert Churchyard was found guilty of her manslaughter by gross negligence and warned that he faces gaol.  Mr Churchyard, 52, who was employed at the time by Automated Garage Doors and Gates Ltd, denied her manslaughter but was convicted by a jury at Norwich Crown Court after one hour and 15 minutes of deliberation. 

The court heard that tragedy occurred when 56-year-old Ms Lunn had pulled into the drive, with her grandchild in the car, and tried to close the automated gate using the remote control.   When it would not work she tried to shut the gate manually and it had fallen directly on top of her, crushing her to death.  Described by the court as a ‘wholly preventable tragedy’, the gate, which weighed around a third of a tonne, was installed in March 2013, but without any stopping devices to prevent it falling if it was operated manually.  Andrew Jackson, prosecuting, stated that Ms Lunn’s death could have easily been prevented by means of a simple stopping device either to the gate or to the track upon which the gate ran.

Churchyard was bailed until October 30 when he is due to be sentenced along with the company.

The guilty verdict comes just weeks before dhf initiative Gate Safety Week, which aims to educate and create awareness around the installation and maintenance of automated gates, drawing attention to specific issues such as poor installation and maintenance.

dhf is committed to making tragic accidents like that of Jill Lunn, a thing of the past,” explains Marketing Manager, Patricia Sowsbery-Stevens.  “Since 2013, we have worked tirelessly to educate and inform the industry of the latest requirements demanded of it and will continue to enforce best practice through our robust training and technical standards.  We urge all companies involved in the installation or maintenance of automated gates, to contact us should they require guidance on their legal responsibilities."

Information can also be found on the dhf website:

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Door & Hardware Federation, The Barn, Shuttington Fields Farm, Main Road, Shuttington, Tamworth, B79 0HA
Registered in England No.2537077
VAT No. 240112234
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