Dreamworld parent company Ardent Leisure has pleaded guilty to three charges over an accident in 2016 when four people were killed following a malfunction on the Thunder River Rapids ride. The charges relate to an alleged failure to comply with a health and safety duty that exposes an individual to a risk of death or serious injury.
Cindy Low, Kate Goodchild, Luke Dorsett and his partner Roozi Araghi died when their raft on the ride collided with an empty raft and flipped on October 25, 2016.
The ABC reports that Ardent has pleaded guilty to all charges at Southport Magistrates Court. The maximum penalty for each charge is $1.5 million or $4.5 million in total.
The coronial inquest into the deaths held earlier this year heard a water pump feeding the ride had broken down, causing water levels to suddenly drop. The coroner told the court that there had been a “systemic failure by Dreamworld in relation to all aspects of safety” and described the safety and maintenance systems as “rudimentary at best” and “frighteningly unsophisticated”. He said there was no evidence Dreamworld ever conducted a proper risk assessment of the ride in its 30 years of commission.
The coroner referred Ardent for possible prosecution, believing the company may have committed an offence under workplace law. The Queensland Government then referred the matter to the independent Work Health and Safety Prosecutor, and Ardent was charged.
The company’s legal representative Bruce Hodgkinson SC told Magistrate Michelle Dooley that Ardent Leisure instructed him to plead guilty to all three charges. The arraignment will be held on September 28.
Meanwhile the ABC also reports that Shine Lawyers are preparing to represent more than a dozen people in separate compensation claims. These clients include witnesses, staff and emergency first responders.
Additionally, there is a separate class action by law firm Piper Alderman on behalf of Ardent Leisure’s shareholders, alleging the investors were misled about safety and other matters.
Image: Police investigate the tragic accident at the Thunder River Rapids ride at Dreamworld in 2016. ABC News