Olivia Burt Durham nightclub death: health and safety probe continues

HEALTH and safety officials are still investigating the death of a student who died when a barrier collapsed outside a nightclub nearly three years ago, it has been confirmed.

A coroner sitting at Crook Civic Centre agreed to adjourn the inquest into death of Olive Burt, a 20-year-old first-year student at Durham University, who died outside the Missoula nightclub in the city on February 8, 2018.

Durham County Council’s health and safety department requested the inquest remain adjourned pending further investigations, after the Crown Prosecution Service confirmed last September that no individual or organisation would be prosecuted.

Assistant Coroner for County Durham Oliver Longstaff said: “To place on record the current state of the investigation, I was informed towards the end of last year by the police, that a decision has been taken by the CPS that no criminal charges will be brought by them in respect of Olivia’s death.

“Primacy in the investigation into Olivia’s death has therefore passed from the CPS, but has not as yet been passed to the coroner’s office. It has been passed to the health and safety department of Durham County Council.

“The health and safety department of the county council are continuing their investigation as to whether or not regulatory offences should be prosecuted against any particular person or institution in relation to Olivia’s death.”

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He added: “They have informally requested that the inquest remains adjourned from its previous opening until their charging decision has been made and until – assuming their is a positive charging decision – the proceedings arising from that decision have been concluded.”

Mr Longstaff said he would invited the council to formally request a suspension. Assuming that request is made, it will be granted and the matter will be listed again for a further mention.

The CPS had considered charges of manslaughter by gross negligence against the individual suspects and charges of corporate manslaughter against the business.

The CPS said it had considered the evidence provided by the police and judged the legal test for bringing a prosecution had not been met.

Ms Burt was a member of the British sailing team, grew up in Milford-on-Sea, Hampshire, and had been head girl of Bournemouth School for Girls.

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Her parents have set up a charity, Olivia Inspires, in her memory to help disadvantaged children from the New Forest area to reach their potential.

An further mention hearing has been scheduled for the week beginning Monday, April 12.

The Northern Echo | Durham