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Council fined £330k after death of five-year-old Alexia Walenkaki

Alexia Walenkaki was playing on a rope swing in Mile End Park when a tree trunk holding the swing fell on her.

Alexia Walenkaki
Alexia Walenkaki

Alexia was playing on a rope swing with friends in Mile End Park, on 17 July 2015 and suffered severe injuries when the tree collapsed on her in Mile End Park. Alexia died in hospital less than two hours later, just a day before her sixth birthday.

A court heard that Tower Hamlets Council failed to carry out an annual safety check on play equipment which would have identified rot in the tree, the structure had not had an inspection for more than 18 months.

The structure also used the wrong wood, poplar instead of the oak specified. It was installed by Free Play Design Ltd

The council was fined £330,000 having previously admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. It was also ordered to pay costs of £6,204.

Last year, the council signed off a £2m “extraordinary cost item” from its children’s services budget to cover the potential fine and legal costs.

We previously reported that the council could face manslaughter charges but the Crown Prosecution Service decided no criminal charges for corporate manslaughter would be brought against the council due to “insufficient evidence”.

In a statement Will Tuckley, Chief Executive of Tower Hamlets Council, said: “We are deeply sorry for our part in Alexia’s death and our thoughts continue to be with her family.

“Following Alexia’s death, we immediately made urgent safety checks of equipment at all council-run play facilities and have brought in a more rigorous system for inspecting and maintaining park play equipment.

“Alexia should have been kept safe while using Mile End Park. No words can adequately express our regret that she was not.”

At a full council meeting Tuckley said he wanted to “again apologise to Alexia’s mother, friends and family for their unbearable loss and express our profound regret that Alexia died in Mile End Park where she should have been safe”.

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Written by Tower Hamlets Reporter

The information contained in my articles is for general information purposes only.

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