Anna Ryder Richardson sobs as husband admits zoo health and safety charges

Anna Ryder Richardson and her husband Colin MacDougall. Picture: PA
Anna Ryder Richardson and her husband Colin MacDougall. Picture: PA
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CELEBRITY interior designer Anna Ryder Richardson sobbed into her husband’s chest yesterday, after he admitted serious health and safety breaches which put a mother and her young child in hospital.

The former Changing Rooms star wept uncontrollably and
refused to leave his side after identical charges against her were withdrawn.

Ms Ryder Richardson, 48, was due to stand trial yesterday at Swansea Crown Court with her Scottish husband, Colin MacDougall, 46.

Both had previously denied the charges and were ready to rebutt the accusations over the trial’s scheduled three weeks.

The couple jointly run the Manor House Wildlife Park in St Florence, near Tenby, west Wales.

Three-year-old Gruff Davies-Hughes suffered serious head injuries at the attraction when a heavy branch fell on him during strong winds in August 2010. The little boy spent three days fighting for his life in intensive care after being airlifted to hospital. His mother suffered head injuries and fractures to her leg, pelvis and arm.

The mother and son, from Llanelli, were among dozens
of people visiting the wallaby enclosure at the time.

The admission of guilt potentially leaves the way open for a civil claim for damages by the injured pair.

MacDougall admitted the charges he had previously
denied when they were reread to him in the dock yesterday.

Ms Ryder Richardson collapsed into his arms as he pleaded guilty to both offences. She then buried her head in her
husband’s chest and sobbed.

MacDougall also pleaded guilty to two identical charges on behalf of their joint company, Manor House Wildlife Park Ltd. The admissions mean he and the company failed in their duty of care to people both in and not in their employment.

The two charges against Ms Ryder Richardson were withdrawn. She was told she could leave the dock.

But she clung to her husband’s arm and, in tears, asked: “Can I stay?” She was allowed to do so by the judge.

MacDougall will be sentenced at a later date.

David Morgan, for Pembrokeshire County Council, told the judge it had been clear that Ms Ryder Richardson had little to do with the aspect of the company for which her husband was responsible.

Judge Paul Thomas released MacDougall on unconditional bail. Sentencing is likely to be later this month.

Ms Ryder Richardson made her name on the BBC’s popular makeover programme Changing Rooms.

In 2008, she gave up her TV career and bought the dilapidated 52-acre zoo-cum-wildlife park with her husband.

Neither she nor her husband would speak yesterday as they left the crown court building.