Manslaughter charges have been brought to court against the
supervisors of a human catapult in Somerset, which in November
2002 tragically claimed the life of a first-year biochemistry
student from Wadham. Kostadin Yankov, who had only come up to Oxford a few weeks
previously, died after an event arranged through the Oxford Stunt
Factory. His friends watched as ‘Dino’ fell
“inches” short of the safety net, incurring serious
spinal and leg injuries. He was immediately airlifted to Frenchay
Hospital, Bristol, but died five hours later. It has emerged, however, that the device operators, Richard
Wicks, 33 and David Aitkenhead, 45, may have been guilty of gross
negligence. In Bristol Crown Court, the jury was told that the
pair had been warned by an ambulance worker that there was cause
for serious concern after four other students fell significantly
short of the centre of the safety net. Despite this, they had
taken no action to improve safety. Philip Mott, QC, prosecuting, described the defendants’
decision to use a new, untested, sling on the day of Mr
Yankov’s death as “scarily reckless”. He
speculated that “if the old sling had been used, Dino Yankov
would have made it to the net.” The trial continues.ARCHIVE: 0th week TT 2004