At a hearing today at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates Court in County Durham, Stonegate Pub Company Limited pleaded not guilty to four Health and Safety charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, brought by Durham County Council following the death of Olivia Burt on 7 February 2018.
Olivia Burt was killed over four years ago after a metal barrier collapsed whilst Olivia and her friends queued outside Missoula Nightclub in Durham city centre. Missoula is owned by Stonegate Pub Company Limited, which is now the largest pub owning company in the UK.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) previously investigated charges of gross negligence and corporate manslaughter, but found there was insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction in February 2020.
Durham County Council subsequently brought Health and Safety charges against Stonegate Pub Limited in February 2022. This is the first hearing after charges were brought against the company.
Olivia’s parents, Nigel and Paula Burt comment:
We are disappointed that four years on we are still no closer to a conclusion after Olivia’s death. This only serves to prolong our search for justice for our wonderful daughter. We can only continue to wait for the trial and for the final outcome of the health and safety prosecution. To us it is incomprehensible how our only child died on a night out with friends.
Nigel and Paula Burt are represented by Anna Thwaites, partner at Bindmans LLP.
Olivia Burt, from Milford on Sea, was a gifted and beautiful young woman who inspired others. She was head girl at her school, Bournemouth School for Girls, and represented Great Britain in sailing. Only 20 years old, she was killed on 7 February 2018 in Durham, where she was a first-year university student studying Natural Sciences.
She was just embarking on a journey that would have doubtless seen her leaving a lasting mark on our world. But more than this, everyone who knew Olivia remembers her smile and her kindness, and how she inspired others.
Since then, Olivia’s parents, Nigel and Paula Burt, have faced the additional trauma of their daughter being trolled on Facebook. This resulted in the November 2018 conviction and imprisonment of the perpetrator.
Olivia’s parents have founded a charity, Olivia Inspires, to allow their daughter’s spirit to live on by helping disadvantaged young people in the New Forest.