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Gym owner fined after girl, 15, suffered agonising burns all over her body following two illegal ten-minute sunbed sessions
Two days after sunbed visit she was rushed to hospital after her skin broke out in blistersShe was left bed-ridden for days and it took three weeks for her skin to heal
10:53 GMT, 29 January 2013
12:01 GMT, 29 January 2013
A 15-year-old girl suffered severe burns all over her body after she was illegally allowed to use a sunbed at a gym.
The student spent 24 hours attached to a drip in hospital and missed three weeks of school with agonising blisters to her chest, back, legs and face.
She was unable to walk or leave her bed for days afterwards during her recovery.
Agonising blisters: Teenager was on a hospital drip for 24 hours after spending two 10 minute sessions on a sunbed
Now the former owner of the gym she went to has been hauled before the courts and fined in a landmark legal action.
The case is one of the first successful prosecutions in the country under new government legislation on sunbed safety for under-18s.
Father-of-two Stewart Hall, 43 – who has now sold Olympic Power Mill on Hornby Street, Bury – pleaded guilty to three charges under the Sunbeds (Regulation) Act 2010.
The girl was not asked to prove her age or given protective goggles, Bury Magistrates' Court was told. She also received no safety instructions from Hall.
The teenager used the sunbed twice in two days – paying 10 for two 10-minute sessions. It was the first time she had ever used a sunbed.
She was rushed to a burns unit at North Manchester General Hospital two days later after her skin blistered. She was treated with dressings.
The Act, which came into force in April 2011, prevents businesses from allowing under-18s to use sunbeds.
Bosses must also prevent youngsters from entering 'restricted zones' around them – and businesses face fines of up to 20,000 for breaching the act.
The girl, who lives with her parents in Bury, has asked not to be named. She described the 'excruciating' pain from her burns.
The gym in Bury where a schoolgirl was allowed to use a sunbed twice and was not asked to show proof of her age
She said: 'The pain was 10 out of 10. It was unbearable and I could not walk or get out of bed. It was excruciating.
'I asked to go on the sunbed and that was it.'
Her mother, 40, added: 'I do not want this to happen to another child. I want to raise awareness of the issue. She was in agony and could barely walk. It was horrible to see.
'The law is there for a good reason. She told us that she was going to the gym and we did not think anything of it, until she came home looking so red.'
Former gym-owner Stewart Hall pleaded guilty to three charges under the Sunbeds (Regulation) Act 2010
The girl, a high school pupil in Bury, went to the gym on May 10 with a friend – another 15-year-old girl – and used the sunbed after both had exercised for an hour.
Malcolm Hope, prosecuting, said she bought a token for the tube-style sunbed and was 'told that a lie-down sunbed would be best for her'.
Mr Hope said 'no questions were asked' over her age and no goggles or advice was issued.
The girls returned to the gym the following day after school. The teenager's friend sat in the same room as she used the sunbed – which constituted the third charge Hall faced as it was a 'restricted zone'.
The court heard that again he didn't ask for proof of age. The other two charges were of letting an under-18 use a sunbed.
The alarm was raised after the girl was rushed to hospital, leading to an investigation and prosecution by Bury council's environmental health team.
The court heard Hall, of Woodhill Road, Bury, has now sold the gym for 6,000. He was fined 500 and ordered to pay court costs of 1,500.
His solicitor Chelsea Thomas said the teenager told him she was 18, but he didn't ask for proof or issue guidance because he 'thought she knew what to do'.
Hermione Lawson, of the British Skin Foundation, said: 'The fact is that you can never be too sure of how much risk you’re putting yourself in when using a sun bed.
'Recent research found that nine out of 10 sunbeds in England fail to meet British and European safety standards. If young people are intent on looking tanned, there are alternatives to sun beds that don’t carry the same risks, spray tanning and self tanning creams being two good examples.'