Stuntman Matthew Cranch, 24, who worked for Stunts UK Ltd, died after sustaining multiple injuries when a safety net intended to break his fall collapsed as he hurtled to the ground in front of hundreds of spectators.

He had been fired from a lorry-mounted cannon during Scott May’s Daredevil Stunt Show at the Kent County Showground in Detling on April 25 2011.

Cranch, who was living in Newquay, Cornwall, had performed the showpiece human cannonball stunt five times before the tragedy.

He had joined the stunt team around four weeks before his death.

An inquest jury last year ruled the death was an accident. A guilty plea was entered on behalf of Stunts UK Ltd and it was fined £100,000.

The business continues to trade but the human cannonball stunt is no longer performed.

The tragedy was found to have occurred because a mechanism which triggered the release of the safety net was not properly set and could be unintentionally, falsely closed, leading to the net dropping when the lorry recoiled upon the firing of the cannon.

It was argued in court that Mr May had no knowledge that the mechanism that triggered the safety net could be set in a falsely closed position, because it had never happened in the previous 1,000 performances of the human cannonball stunt.

It was found that there was an unsuitable risk assessment for the quick release system, although it was accepted they were not ‘knowing failures.’ The Judge also found that there was a lack of an audit trail to prove that the company was compliant with health and safety procedures.

The judge stated that it was “a case of high culpability. It’s a case in which breaches were capable of subsisting over a long period of time and did subsist over a long period of time.”

The judge said May’s offence was “committed through omission rather than act”.

Prosecutors said that Mr May had “failed to discharge the duty” as an employer to ensure the health, safety and welfare at work of employees, including Mr Cranch.

Scott May, 40, of Stunts UK Ltd, was sentenced at the Crown Court to the community order, including 150 hours of unpaid work, and ordered to pay costs of £80,000.

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