A pub-owner was fined £70,000 after customer sustained serious injuries.

The owner of the Sussex Arms in Paddington was fined £70,000 after a 54kg planter fell on Margaret Jackson from a first-floor ledge. Mrs Jackson, 49, suffered a fractured spine, severe head injuries and broken ribs. She spent 10 weeks in hospital following the accident and has been unable to return work as a painter and decorator.

Sitting on 10 April, Southwark Crown Court heard that the incident occurred when a guest staying at the pub opened an illegally installed window, knocking the planter from a first-floor ledge directly above where Mrs Jackson was sitting.

It was explained to the court that the windows where changed without planning permission in 2009 from sash to outward-opening, and the planter was placed on the ledge in front. Despite being ordered to change them back by Westminster City Council, nothing was done. Investigators for the Council discovered the planter, which contained an artificial tree, was weighed down with concrete and sand so it did not move in the wind.

The pub’s owner, Polynikis Charalambous, admitted breaching section 3(1) of the HSWA 1974 by failing to ensure customers were not exposed to risk. He was personally fined £15,000, while his company was ordered to pay £55,000. Westminster City Council, which prosecuted the case, was awarded full costs of £26,561.

Mr Charalambous, who runs both the pub and the Stylotel Hotel above it, said he believed it was “unthinkable” anything like this could happen. His counsel, Matthew Kerruish-Jones, said the 34-year old company director had since undertaken various health and safety training courses.

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