Prison sentence for supplying unsafe baby and child car seats
Monday 23 September 2019
- Mamas and Papas Ltd plus car seat distributor sentenced at Aylesbury Crown Court after MK Council Trading Standards investigation exposes unsafe products
- Tests on car seats – since recalled - designed to protect children in the event of a crash showed they allowed excessive head movement
Today, baby and children’s retail chain Mamas and Papas Ltd (M&P Ltd) has been fined £20,000 and Christine Mitchell, Director of baby and child car seat distributor Jeenay (UK) Ltd has been sentenced to 12 weeks in prison for supplying almost 150,000 unsafe child car seats between January 2013 and April 2016.
The sentencing is the culmination of over three years of complex investigations carried out by Milton Keynes Council’s Trading Standards team during which the seats were tested in a crash simulation with a child-size dummy. They were found to crack and allow excessive head movement, which could cause head and other injuries to a child.
Mamas and Papas branded Mercury model child car seats suitable for children from birth to four years old were sold in Argos between January 2013 and April 2016, and have since been recalled. Consumers still using one of the seats should stop doing so immediately and return it to Argos for a full refund, or call them on 0345 640 2020.
As well as the £20,000 fine, Mamas and Papas Ltd were ordered to pay £50,000 in costs to Milton Keynes Council, and £275,000 of profits from the sale of these unsafe child car seats will be confiscated under the Proceeds of Crime Act. Christine Mitchell, who supplied the seats to M&P Ltd will have £236,850 of profits confiscated.
Representatives from M&P Ltd and Christine Mitchell had both pleaded guilty at earlier hearings to the supply of unsafe car seats, an offence under the General Product Safety Regulations 2005, which ensures that products placed on the market or supplied by producers and distributors are safe.
Sue Crawley, Head of Trading Standards said: “We spent a lot of time investigating this case and hope the prosecution sends a message to other businesses large and small that Trading Standards takes a hard line on the supply of unsafe and potentially dangerous goods.”
His Honour Judge Rochford said during the hearing:
“No parent will compromise the safety of their child. They are entitled to expect products they buy to accord with safety regulations. In relation to Mamas and Papas Ltd, a well-known and reputable brand, they can expect the standards to be as high as they can be. Both defendants have let down parents and put children at risk.
“By October 2015 Christine Mitchell was well aware of safety issues and chose not to act upon them properly. She was wholly indifferent to whether seats were safe in terms of the R44 regime but also in terms of the safety of children. She was content for corners to be cut.
“As for M&P they entrusted Christine Mitchell and assumed R44 to be watertight but systems were not in place or operating properly and their failures have led to unsafe products being placed on the market.
“Ceaseless vigilance is to be ensured. The harm caused was to allow 150,000 car seats that did not conform to R44 and therefore not safe on to the market and a risk that they may be involved in accidents. The Courts need to send a message that those responsible for safety carry a high level of responsibility if regulations are breached of which the Courts must treat seriously and punish accordingly.”