A Canadian judge has ruled the nightclub where a Chorley soldier died after falling down a flight of stairs was not safe.
Trooper Stewart McAllister suffered a fractured skull after a freak fall at a nightclub in Canada where he had recently finished a training exercise.
The 20-year-old, of Davenport Way, was off duty with three fellow soldiers when tragedy struck on October 23, 2008. He lost his balance on dimly lit steps and banged his head, never regaining consciousness.
On Friday a judge sitting in Alberta, Canada, released his findings which ruled Mr McAllister’s death was accidental and had been caused by ‘excessive alcohol consumption and dangerous premises’.
It was the first time Mr McAllister, who had served in Iraq, and his friends had been granted leave from their training base to go to a club in Medicine Hat.
They left at around 10pm and at around 1am, Mr McAllister went outside. It was on his way back into the club that he fell down the flight of stairs, hitting his head on a concrete wall at the bottom.
Paramedics took Mr McAllister to Medicine Hat Regional Hospital and he was later transferred to the intensive care unit at Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, Alberta. The next day a soldier was sent to inform his family in Chorley about the accident. They flew to his bedside and he died days later on November 29.
Judge Gordon Krinke, sitting at the Provincial Court in Medicine Hat, said the nightclub, Gringos, ‘failed in its obligations’ to the soldier, by continuing to serve him alcohol.
It was found he had drunk around 13 to 16 beers, or the equivalent, when he was admitted to hospital.
Judge Krinke said: “Mr McAllister’s death was accidental. The accident was caused by two factors – excessive alcohol consumption and dangerous premises.
“The amount of alcohol an individual consumes in a licensed premises is, first and foremost, the responsibility of that individual. However, it is fair to say that, having served individuals a substance which is designed to impair that individual’s judgment, there is an obligation on the licensee to ensure that a patron is not overserved.
“Gringos failed in its obligations to Mr McAllister.”
He went on to say the premises had dim lighting, worn carpets and there wasn’t a handrail which Mr McAllister could have held onto.
Judge Krinke said: “There is, as well, an obligation on the owners of any premises to ensure that those premises are safe.
“In particular, when an owner knows that the majority of his patrons will be consuming alcohol and, as a consequence, will have their reactions impaired to a lesser or greater extent, there is an obligation to ensure that the premises are safe for these specific patrons.
“Mr McAllister was impaired.
“He entered a facility with which he was not familiar.
“The stairs were steep, the lighting was dim, and lighting from other sources made for more confusion.
“There was no centre handrail. The carpet was worn. Many people had tripped before.
“Once Mr McAllister began to fall, there was nothing to hold onto.
“The end result was his death. Again, Gringos failed in its obligations to Mr McAllister.”
He recommended staff continue to be trained to recognise customers who have drunk too much alcohol, and consider restricting the sale of ‘shooters’ - drinks which are meant to be consumed in one. He also said legislation or regulations needed to be developed to make sure licensed premises had enhanced safety measures.