VIDEO: Man fined over fireworks igniting in vehicle during large organised display

Images of the fireworks incident at Ringwood Raceway which were played in court <i>(Image: Dorset Council)</i>
Images of the fireworks incident at Ringwood Raceway which were played in court (Image: Dorset Council)

A MAN has been handed a court bill of more than £7,000 after a haul of fireworks ignited in the back of a vehicle during a large organised display.

Between 1,600 and 2,000 spectators watched on as the incident unfolded due to a defective firework at Ringwood Raceway in St Leonards.

Poole Magistrates’ Court heard the firework landed on the open back of the tipper truck-type vehicle in the immediate vicinity of the display.

The vehicle contained unused fireworks covered by “insufficient” plastic sheeting and they subsequently ignited.

Videos of the incident on November 6, 2021, were played at the court hearing on Monday, January 30, which showed dozens of fireworks going off and a fire in the back of the vehicle.

Organiser Craig Richard Robinson pleaded guilty to failing to take measures to prevent, limit or protect persons from fire or explosion following an investigation by Dorset Council.

The defendant’s basis of plea was that the explosion was triggered by a defective firework which fell while still burning into the rear of the vehicle, which contained a number of unused fireworks.

His barrister Nick Robinson, no relation to the defendant, told the court these fireworks should have been better protected. He said the explosion “did not cause any actual harm but did create a risk and fear of harm”.

Prosecuting, Syan Ventom said there was no problem with the distance between the display, which was in the centre of the oval racetrack, and the crowd.

He said the issue related to having the vehicle containing fireworks so close to the display.

Mr Ventom read a statement from one spectator who described using a chair for protection over fears fireworks could come into the crowd.

Nick Robinson said the defendant, who is the sole director of Ringwood Raceway Ltd, had conducted displays since 2008 and there had been no other incidents of a similar nature.

The barrister said the truck should not have been where it was and the unused fireworks should not have been there and if they were they should have been protected by more than a sheet.

The court heard there would have been no evidence to Craig Robinson, 46 and of Hurn Road, Ringwood, that the firework cake was defective.

Nick Robinson said an expert’s report said “that really is a very bad cake”.

Council officers worked closely with the defendant to improve his risk assessment after the incident and the firework display was able to go ahead in 2022, the court heard.

“It was a genuine mistake,” Nick Robinson, said. “A serious one but a genuine mistake.”

The offence was isolated and out of character for the defendant, the court was told.

Discussing the raceway events and business, Nick Robinson said: “A very popular family location for people to go to socialise and it perhaps does stand for something that he has cultivated it to what it is over such a long period of time, especially when running a business is and can be difficult.”

He added: “He (the defendant) is a down to earth chap. He is clearly somebody who does or may well does this for the reasons he says – for the community spirit and the enjoyment of running the events, the banger racing.”

Craig Robinson was fined £3,780 and ordered to pay £3,700 costs and a £190 surcharge.

Chairman of the bench magistrate David Murray said it was by the “grace of God that this did not end in a very different way to how it did”.

He told the defendant to take the lesson from what happened.

“You are a very fortunate man it did not end in a much different way to how it did,” Mr Murray said.

In a statement, Cllr Laura Beddow, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for culture, communities and customer services, said: “I’m very pleased with today’s sentencing.

"It’s extremely fortunate that no-one was hurt during this distressing incident, but the risk and fear of harm caused could not be ignored or taken lightly.

"The appropriate measures were not taken by the organisers to prevent uncontrolled fire and explosions, and at a public event - especially one involving fireworks – this was unforgiveable and deserving of further legal action.

"I want to thank the Dorset Council officers in our food, safety and port health, trading standards andlegal teams for their hard work on this case.

"Through their thorough and robust investigation and resulting prosecution, we’ve been able to demonstrate how seriously we take the safety of Dorset residents.”