Dreamworld owner faces millions in fines

The mother of two of the Thunder River Rapids ride victims “cries for her lost children every day”, the sentencing hearing of Dreamworld’s parent group has been told.

Cindy Low, Kate Goodchild, her brother Luke Dorsett and his partner Roozi Araghi were killed when a water pump on the ride malfunctioned, causing water levels to fall dangerously low.

Their raft collided with another after becoming stuck in the low water.

It partially flipped, flinging the group into the mechanised conveyor that moved the rafts on October 25, 2016. 

The malfunction was the third that day and the fifth in a week, and no automated shutdown function was installed despite recommendations.

The sentencing hearing is underway in Southport Magistrates Court. 

Kim Dorsett, the mother of Mr Dorsett and Ms Goodchild, is in court as she has been throughout the legal process. 

With her on Monday is Ms Goodchild’s daughter Ebony Turner who survived the tragedy. 

In a moving statement, Ms Dorsett fought through tears, saying she cried “for my lost children every day”.

To this day, she said she was haunted by Ebony’s words. 

“‘I could not find mummy’ – these words have become recurring nightmare words that will stay with me until my dying breath. 

“I have never been so alone and isolated as I have become in grief.”

Ms Dorsett said every day that she wakes she is disappointed. 

“I have to have another day in this hell. 

“A broken heart has no words.” 

Other family members of the victims are watching the sentence by video link and in statements read to the court saying the deaths were a life sentence,

Dreamworld’s parent company faces up to $4.5 million in fines after pleading guilty to safety charges over the Thunder River Rapids ride tragedy. 

Workplace Health and Safety prosecutor Aaron Guilfoyle. said Ardent Leisure failed to provide and maintain safe plant and structures and systems of work at the Gold Coast theme park.

Mr Guilfoyle has called for the court to impose the full $4.5 million fine as without “undue burden” on the company.

The prosecutor outlined a litany of failures to adequately ensure the Thunder River Rapids ride was operated safely. 

Previous safety audits showed a water level safety sensor which could have saved lives would have cost less than $3000.

The company also failed to provide information, training, instruction or supervision necessary to protect people from risk.

Ardent’s senior counsel Bruce Hodgkinson opened submissions with an apology to the families and all those affected by the 2016 tragedy. 

He told the court that safety and staff training at the park had been completely overhauled.

“Ardent and Dreamworld have engaged frequently with the regulator with unwavering cooperation,” Mr Hodgkinson told the court. 

“It has accepted responsibility for this tragedy and has taken substantive steps to improve safety across the whole of the park.”

In February, coroner James McDougall referred Ardent  to the Office of Industrial Relations, saying there was a “systemic failure” at Dreamworld in all aspects of safety.

The inquest also found there had been no thorough engineering risk assessment of the Thunder River Rapids in the 30 years it was open to the public.

Dreamworld presented itself as a modern, world-class theme park, but its “frighteningly unsophisticated” safety procedures were “rudimentary at best”, he said while delivering the inquest findings.

Magistrate Pam Dowse has adjourned the hearing with a decision expected on Monday afternoon.

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