Guilty plea over fatal Dreamworld ride

Four adults were killed after their ride flipped and they were caught in the conveyor-belt...
Four adults were killed after their ride flipped and they were caught in the conveyor-belt underneath. Photo: Reuters

Dreamworld's parent company has pleaded guilty to charges over the fatal Thunder River Rapids ride tragedy in Australia that killed four people, including a New Zealand woman, in 2016.

Ardent Leisure Group Ltd was charged under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 for allegedly failing to comply with its health and safety duty and exposing individuals to a risk of serious injury or death.

However, Dreamworld executives responsible for the Queensland park's safety escaped individual prosecution after four tourists died on October 25 in 2016 when they were thrown into the mechanism of the Thunder River Rapids ride.

Prosecutors had filed three charges under the Work Health and Safety Act that carry a combined maximum penalty of $A4.5 million ($NZ4.8 million) in the Brisbane Magistrates Court.

The charges were brought before Southport Magistrates Court on Wednesday by Queensland's Workplace Health and Safety prosecutor Aaron Guilfoyle.

Mr Guilfoyle alleged that Ardent Leisure failed to provide and maintain safe plant and structures and systems of work at the iconic Gold Coast theme park.

The company also allegedly failed to provide information, training, instruction or supervision necessary to protect people from risk.

Barrister Bruce Hodgkinson, who appeared for Ardent Leisure, said the company would plead guilty to all three charges. The matter has been set down for a lengthy hearing on September 28.

In February this year, Coroner James McDougall referred Ardent Leisure to the Office of Industrial Relations, saying there was a "systemic failure" at Dreamworld in all aspects of safety.

The inquest also found there had been no thorough engineering risk assessment of the Thunder River Rapids in the 30 years it was open to the public.

Dreamworld presented itself as a modern, world-class theme park, but its "frighteningly unsophisticated" safety procedures were "rudimentary at best", he said while delivering the inquest findings.

Cindy Low, originally from Kawerau in New Zealand, Kate Goodchild, her brother Luke Dorsett and his partner Roozi Araghi were killed when a water pump on the famous ride malfunctioned, causing water levels to fall dangerously low.

Their raft collided with another after becoming stuck in the low water. It partially flipped, flinging the group into the mechanised conveyor that moved the rafts.

The malfunction was the third that day and the fifth in a week, and no automated shutdown function was installed despite recommendations.

Ms Goodchild's 12-year-old daughter and Ms Low's 10-year-old son survived the incident after they were thrown to safety.

- AAP and Reuters 



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