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Sunbed boss fined after girl is burned
11:06am Thursday 31st January 2013 in News
A FORMER Bury gym boss has been prosecuted for breaking sunbed laws in what is believed to be the first case of its kind in the country.
Stewart Hall was taken to court after a 15-year-old girl twice used a sunbed at Olympic Power Mill, in Hornby Street, Bury, in May last year.
She suffered burns on her body and had to go to be treated at a hospital’s accident and emergency unit.
Hall, of Woodhill Road, Bury, was prosecuted by Bury Council’s environmental health department under the Sunbeds (Regulation) Act 2010.
The new law was introduced in April, 2011, and businesses can be fined up to £20,000 for breaching it.
Hall, aged 43, appeared at Bury Magistrates Court on Monday after earlier pleading guilty to three charges: two counts of allowing a child under the age of 18 to use a sunbed and one count of allowing a child under the age of 18 in a restricted zone.
Hall was fined £500 and ordered to pay costs of £1,500 and a £15 victim surcharge.
The court heard that the girl and a friend had visited the mill to use the gym on May 10 last year.
She asked to use the sunbed and bought a £5 token for a 10-minute session.
Malcolm Hope, prosecuting, said the girl was not asked her age and her friend went in the area with the sunbed — the restricted zone.
The following day, the girl returned and again used the sunbed.
She was taken to hospital the next day, given a drip and her burns were dressed, the court heard.
Chelsea Thomas, defending, said Hall had suffered from depression since childhood and it was his dream to open a gym.
He saved his money and in 2008 he opened his business, which had two sunbeds.
Miss Thomas said Hall remembered a girl asking to use the sunbed and she told him she was 18 years old.
She added: “He did ask her age, but he did not ask for identification to confirm her age.”
Hall told magistrates that the sunbed was token-operated and goggles were with it.
He said that the girl could have asked him for advice if she needed it.
Hall, a father-of-two, sold the gym in December for £6,000 and is currently unemployed, the court heard.
After the hearing, a spokesman for Bury Council, who took out the prosecution, said: “Businesses who offer sunbeds for use must ensure that they are abiding by the Sunbeds (Regulation) Act 2010. They must ensure that users are over 18 and adopt an appropriate method of checking age and recording it.
“In this case, a 15-year-old girl ended up in hospital for 24 hours with severe burns. This highlights the severity that sunbeds can have on the skin if used inappropriately. Under-18s must be made aware of the dangers."