A CRICKET club has been fined for failing to act quickly enough when concerns were raised about the safety of a stand during an England international match.

A number of boards gave way in the north stand at Durham Cricket Club' home ground early in the game between England and the West Indies in September 2017.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the stand was inspected by external engineers in the days leading up to the game when many faulty boards were identified and replaced.

The first incident hadn't early in the game when a spectators leg went through one board and the court heard how that should have caused club officials to reassess their belief that the stand was safe.

A further incident occurred but nobody was injured on that occasion.

However, 30 minutes later one spectator was seriously hurt when she fell around 12 feet to the ground after a hole appeared in the stands at the T20 cricket match.

Jamie Hill QC, prosecuting, said Susan Worth broke her leg when the deck-board she was standing on gave way and she plunged to the floor.

Another man was able to grab a seat in front and stop himself falling.

The Northern Echo: A steward standing over the hole in the stands. Picture: @ChristianCeriso/PAA steward standing over the hole in the stands. Picture: @ChristianCeriso/PA

Moments later, a woman sitting two rows in front almost fell through a hole when another board collapsed but she managed to use her arms to stop her falling, the court heard.

An investigation was launched by the local authority following the accident at the club's Chester-le-Street ground.

Simon Antrobus QC pleaded guilty on behalf of the cricket club to a charge of failing to ensure the health and safety of spectators and people not in its employment at an earlier hearing.

He said the incident had caused 'embarrassment' for the club and officials had carried out a 'root and branch' overhaul of its safety protocols since it happened.

Judge Howard Crowson fined the club £18,000 for the safety breach accepting that club officials believed safety problems had been rectified.

He said: "Whatever belief may have been held about the boards, for the safety of the spectators, the club should have carried out an assessment of the boards and only continued to allow spectators access to the stand if their safety could be assured.

"The failure to act in that way, exposed spectators to the risk of harm and three spectators were hurt."

The club was also ordered to pay £94,132.40 in court costs.

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