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Charges brought against owner of Missoula Nightclub in Durham, where Milford student Olivia Burt died

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CHARGES have been made against the owner of a nightclub where 20-year-old Milford student Olivia Burt was killed in an incident involving a metal barrier.

Olivia died on 7th February 2018 outside the Missoula venue in Durham city centre where she was in her first year at university studying natural sciences.

In September 2020 the Crown Prosecution Service investigated criminal charges of gross negligence and corporate manslaughter but said there was insufficient evidence to mount a case

Olivia Burt
Olivia Burt

Now lawyers for parents Nigel and Paula have announced that Durham County Council has levelled health and safety charges against nightclub owner Stonegate Pub Company Ltd.

Mr and Mrs Burt said: “We welcome the decision by Durham County Council to charge Stonegate Pub Company with four health and safety offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

“Four long years after Olivia’s death, we now await the outcome of the health and safety prosecution.

“We do not understand how our only child died on a night out with friends.”

Olivia's parents Nigel and Paula
Olivia's parents Nigel and Paula

On Wednesday, Olivia’s inquest was stayed by Oliver Longstaff, assistant coroner for County Durham and Darlington, for the prosecution to take place.

Joanne Waller, Durham County Council’s head of community protection, told the A&T: “We can confirm we have served a summons on Stonegate Pub Company Ltd for four charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act, in relation to matters dating from February 2017 to February 2018.

“The case is listed for a hearing at Peterlee Magistrates’ Court on 1st March and while proceedings are ongoing, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further.”

A spokesperson for Stonegate said: “Due to ongoing legal proceedings, we are unable to comment at this time.”

Mr and Mrs Burt are represented by Anna-Louise Thwaites, a partner at legal firm Bindmans LLP.

Olivia was a talented sailor
Olivia was a talented sailor

Olivia, who had attended Milford Pimary School, was a high-achiever in the classroom and a talented sailor.

She was in the Royal Yachting Association’s junior and youth squads in both Optimist and Laser, and travelled abroad to compete, representing Britain at the European Laser 4.7 Youth Championships in the Netherlands in 2011, and at the Laser Radial Youth European Championships in Denmark in 2014.

She regularly attended national-level Radial events, representing the Royal Lymington Yacht Club and Lymington Town Sailing Club, and was a member of Durham University’s sailing team.

The master of Durham’s University College, Prof. David Held, described her as an “exceptional sportswoman”. Friends called her “beautiful” and “wonderful”.

In the wake of Olivia’s death, the Burts faced the trauma of their daughter’s accounts being trolled on Facebook, involving Paul Hind, then from Westacres, Wark, Northumberland.

He was jailed for 14 months, having admitted four charges of sending a letter, communication or article conveying false information at an earlier hearing.

Olivia’s parents went on to found a charity in her memory, Olivia Inspires, which helps disadvantaged young people in the New Forest.

It distributes grants to help provide services or enable students to buy equipment that will develop their potential in science, technology, engineering and mathematics as well as the arts and sport.

Visit www.oliviainspires.org.uk

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