Further investigation needed after death of teenage boy at funfair, coroner says

Area coroner Katrina Hepburn adjourned the inquest into the death of 14-year-old Mackenzie Croxford-Cook.

24 October 2022

Further investigation into fairground site and ride security is needed following the death of a teenage boy, a coroner has said.

Mackenzie Croxford-Cook, 14 and from Deal in Kent, died on August 3 this year after entering a fairground in Pencester Gardens in Dover before it opened to the public.

He and a number of friends gained access to the funfair and used the dodgems and trampolines before Mackenzie was trapped and fatally injured on a ‘superstar’ machine.

The inquest into his death was due to conclude on Monday at County Hall in Maidstone, but area coroner Katrina Hepburn adjourned the case so further information could be gathered from the operator of the ride, Luke Shufflebottom, as well as Dover District Council which owns the land.

Ms Hepburn said this is so she has “all of the information” needed to both conclude the inquest and potentially issue a Prevention of Future Deaths (PFD) report, if necessary, due to any failings or shortcomings which could have contributed to the death.

Teenage boys dies at Family Funfair in Kent
The Family Funfair in Pencester Gardens, Dover, Kent, where a teenage boy died (PA)

She explained: “Mackenzie and his colleagues had access to this ride outside its hours of operation with such tragic consequences.

“I believe there is missing evidence looking at the fencing of this ride and questions about access to this location for these teenagers on that morning.

“Mackenzie was trapped in a fairground ride but I don’t have evidence about how that location was being fenced and monitored at that hour in the morning.

“I could have gone ahead today but I would rather make sure I have all the evidence so I can deal with PFD issues if they do arise.

“I will request a statement from Mr Shufflebottom explaining how the ride is closed down, opened up, and how it is left in the interim.

“There may be by-laws relating to fairground rides which the council may have details about.

“I will make further inquiries with Dover District Council about permissions and gain more evidence about the situation with regards to this site.

“I want to make sure everything is ready before we proceed. It’s not definitive that I will make a PFD report but I must make one where I think there’s a risk of the same thing happening again, so I need to make sure there’s sufficient evidence to make a decision about that.”

The inquest has been adjourned to a date to be confirmed.

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