Legionnaires' deaths: Council architect 'canceled tests'
Back to Local Government

Publisher:  Jon Land
Published: 08/06/2006 - 17:23:08 PM

An architect caused the death of seven people from Legionnaires' Disease
by failing to safely maintain an ageing air-conditioning system, a court
heard today.

Gillian Beckingham, 48, cancelled a contract which ensured that
necessary tests were carried out on the air-conditioning unit at Forum
28 Art Centre in Barrow, Cumbria, Preston Crown Court was told.

In the summer of 2002 the system sprayed deadly bacteria into the air
and led to an outbreak of Legionnaires Disease. Six women and one man
died, while 172 others were infected.

Alistair Webster QC, prosecuting, told the jury of eight men and four
women that both the deaths and illnesses were "avoidable and unnecessary".
He said: "You will hear evidence that she was warned by a service
engineer as to the serious dangers brewing up in the air conditioning
system at Forum 28, before the outbreak occurred.

"Such a warning made it imperative for her to take swift action,
effective action, to eliminate the danger.

"She failed to take any affective action at all and the tragedy unfolded."