Butler dies at stately home in 'avoidable' lift accident

One of Britain's most celebrated Elizabethan houses has attracted the wrong kind of fame after being prosecuted for an accident that saw a domestic servant crushed to death by a poorly maintained luggage lift.

Elizabethan house

Burghley House in Stamford, Lincolnshire dates back to 1555 and has been featured in films such as The Da Vinci Code and Pride and Prejudice.

Investigators told Peterborough Crown Court that the incident took place in July 2014. The lift was taking guests’ luggage up to the second floor in the private area when one of the bags jammed the lift.

While 48 year old Mr Mellar was trying to free the trapped bag the lift cage descended, crushing him against the bannister of the stairwell in which it was situated.

When HSE investigators inspected the lift, they found that it had not been fitted with the necessary slack rope detector. Assessment by a qualified lift engineer would have identified this and other defects. Burghley House Preservation Trust Limited pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. They were fined £266,000 and ordered to pay costs of £16,863.

Commenting after sentencing, HSE inspector Alison Ashworth said: “This was a completely avoidable incident and Burghley House admitted its role in it, but of course that will be little comfort for Mr Mellar’s family." She went on to advise that all lifts, especially older models, should be correctly maintained and inspected so that dangerous defects can be identified and put right.

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