Trampoline park bosses who ran venue where 11 visitors broke their backs – including three in one day – after jumping into foam-filled pit could face jail
- David Shuttleworth and Matthew Melling pleaded guilty to health and safety offences last month
Two former directors of a trampoline park which became notorious after 11 visitors suffered broken backs could face jail after admitting health and safety offences.
Three people suffered fractured spines while jumping into a foam-filled pit at Flip Out Chester in a single day in 2017, sparking concerns at the craze for unregulated trampolining centres.
With scores of visitors being ‘injured on a daily basis’, the Daily Mail revealed the local hospital had warned that specialist surgeons were facing unnecessary pressure as a result.
Visitors left traumatised by their life-changing injuries today welcomed the threat of prison sentences – and warned that the centres were unsafe.
David Shuttleworth and Matthew Melling, both 33, pleaded guilty to health and safety offences when they appeared at Chester Crown Court last month.
David Shuttleworth, of Barlaston, Staffordshire, and Matthew Melling, of Spinningfields, Manchester, both 33, pleaded guilty to health and safety offences at Chester Crown Court
The pair admitted failing to preventing visitors being exposed to risk and could face up to two years behind bars as well as hefty fines when they return to be sentenced.
The charges relate to an investigation into 270 known accidents over a seven-week period between December 2016 and February 2017.
Among those who suffered a fractured spine while jumping off a piece of equipment known as the Tower Jump – described at the time by Shuttleworth and Melling as the largest of its kind in the world – was Liza Jones, 26, from Wrexham.
She was left in ‘most pain I’ve ever suffered’ after leaping from a 13ft high platform into a foam pit at the 40,000 sq ft centre near Ellesmere Port in February 2017, and later launched legal action.
‘I’m glad they’ve faced court action because I could have been left paralysed,’ she told the Mail yesterday.
‘I landed in the way I’d been told to, but I was one of three people who suffered broken backs that day.
‘People visiting these centres may feel they’re safe because they’ve got rules for people to follow, but that’s just not true.
‘The firms that are running them need to learn from this and ensure they’ve got proper health and safety in place.’ Shuttleworth, of Barlaston, Staffordshire, resigned as a director of Flip Out Chester’s then operator FO World Chester Ltd in 2018 while Melling, of Spinningfields, Manchester, quit in 2020.
Liza Jones who suffered a back fracture and burst vertebrae after landing in a foam pit at a trampoline park
The company was dissolved last year, with Flip Out Chester now under new ownership.
They were prosecuted after an investigation by Cheshire West and Chester Council.
Christine Warner, its cabinet member for homes, planning and safer communities, said: ‘This business had a total disregard for safety regulations.’
The number of indoor trampolining attractions has mushroomed from just four in 2014 to more than 100.
However personal injury lawyers say they have been inundated with calls from people who have hurt themselves, sometimes with broken backs and life-changing fractures.
The firm was dissolved last year, with Flip Out Chester now run by a different franchisee.
A spokesman for Flip Out, which has 30 centres in the UK, said: ‘The incidents relate to a specific piece of equipment that was immediately closed. Our systems and procedures have evolved significantly since.’
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