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TEENAGER KILLED BY FALLING TREE

Call by mother for manslaughter prosecution rejected 

The mother of teenager who died after being struck by the falling branch of a tree has expressed disappointment that Devon County Council will not be prosecuted for corporate manslaughter.

Her daughter Grace aged 16 was struck by the 20ft branch of a 150-year-old oak tree causing fatal head injuries.

Deborah Southon, the mother of Tracy, said: “Devon County Council had the road surveyed and chose to ignore the results of the survey. They knew the tree was dangerous and did nothing. It really is that simple.”

An inquest in April 2009 heard that 7 out of 16 trees were graded dangerous in 2004 but no action was taken.

Mrs Southon added that she met HSE Officers in July 2009 who “informed me of their decision not to prosecute, and in giving their reasons you would have thought they were at a different inquest. If they cannot act on the facts revealed, what is the point of the legislation? If correct work practises had existed and been applied, Grace would still be here and this whole tragedy would have been avoided.”

A Devon County Council spokesman said all procedures had been reviewed, and landowners were now immediately contacted when dangerous trees were identified, with follow-up checks in place.

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