THE Gold Borthers have been fined £16,000 for breaching health and safety laws after a tourist fell through an unsecured trap door in one of their shops.
Stunned Aileen Barry was badly injured after falling three feet at Edinburgh’s Auld Christmas Shop in the Lawnmarket in October 2009.
Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard Mrs Barry was left with a fractured ankle and broken bones after the fall. She also needed several operations to correct her injuries.
The court heard how the 54-year-old visitor, who comes from Limerick, Eire, was left with scars and is in constant pain.
Today shop owners the Gold Brothers, of High Street, Kirkcaldy, Fife, pleaded guilty to breaking the law before Sheriff Roderick MacLeod.
Depute procurator fiscal Eileen McClung told the court that the accident took place on October 13, 2009.
The Gold Brothers had taken over the premises, which used to be a whisky shop, in the previous months.
The court heard that the Gold Brothers had carried out renovations at the shop and had removed a staircase which connected the shop floor with a basement. They installed trap doors which workers used to climb down to a stock room and use the staff toilet.
On the morning of October 13, 2009, Mrs Barry visited the shop. Members of staff had been working in the basement and had forgotten to shut the trap door.
Mrs Barry walked over the trapdoor and fell down injuring her ankle.
Ms McClung said: “She was screaming and in pain and unable to move. Her husband asked staff to call for an ambulance.”
The court heard that Mrs Barry then spent the following three days in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary Hospital before returning to Ireland. She also needed medical treatment when she returned to Eire.
Her husband Gerard meanwhile telephoned Edinburgh City Council who launched a probe into what happened at the shop.
Investigators concluded that the Gold Brothers had broken health and safety laws and they brought the company to court.
The court heard that the Gold Brothers would not have been prosecuted if the staircase that they had removed had remained in place.
Ms McClung added: “She is of the opinion that her life has been changed adversely as a consequence of this incident.”
Sheriff MacLeod also heard that the business “sincerely” and “deeply” regretted causing Mrs Barry to be injured.
On passing sentence, Sheriff MacLeod said that if the company hadn’t pleaded guilty, he would have fined them £24,000.
The company have been given two years to pay the fine.