A stage manager who was left paralysed after falling from a height of three metres at London’s Soho Theatre in 2012 has been awarded £3.7 million in compensation.
As The Guardian reports, Rachael Presdee, 38, spent six months in hospital and uses a wheelchair after the accident at the City of Westminster theatre, where she was working on a production of Boys for the Headlong theatre company.
The unmarked backstage door which was concealing the drop – traditionally used for the balcony scene in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet – had been flagged up as a potential safety risk a month earlier, but no-one had taken the time to secure it or mark it up.
Presdee was searching for a theatre employee in charge of stage light controls ahead of a performance when she stepped through the unmarked door and a black curtain, which she assumed was a light blocker.
She told how she thought she was making her way into a room, but in fact it was open space some 10ft above the stage.
“I could not have imagined when I walked in to work on 9 June 2012 that I would never walk out of there, or walk anywhere else ever again,” she said.
Presdee, who has since returned to her native Australia, explained how the compensation – which is thought to be one of the biggest ever payouts in the UK entertainment sector – will be required to cover the costs of her carers, future needs and loss of a lifetime’s earnings.
Soho Theatre has since been successfully prosecuted by Westminster City Council for breaching health and safety laws, with the sentence expected to be handed down this week.