SOUTH Lakes Safari Zoo and its boss David Gill are to be prosecuted in connection with the death of a keeper killed by a tiger.

It follows the conclusion of Barrow Borough Council’s investigation into the death of 24-year-old worker Sarah Louise McClay on 24 May, 2013. She suffered fatal injuries as a result of being attacked by a Sumatran tiger.

The council announced yesterday (6) it is to prosecute for alleged breaches of health and safety law. In addition, they are also to prosecute in respect of alleged breaches following an incident in July 2014 when a zoo keeper fell from a ladder while preparing to feed big cats.

There will be a further prosecution against both the South Lakes Safari Zoo Ltd and its director Mr Gill regarding an alleged failure to comply with two improvement notices, served by the council. The proceedings commenced against South Lakes Safari Zoo Ltd are for the alleged failure to discharge its duties under Section 2 (1), 3 (1) and 21 of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 ("The Act") and Regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety Work Regulations 1999. The same offences are alleged in relation to Mr Gill in his capacity of director of the company, in line with the provisions contained within section 37 of The Act.

The initial court date has been set for 27 August 2015 at 1.45pm at Furness Magistrates' Court, Abbey Road, Barrow.

The prosecution of Mr David Gill and South Lakes Safari Zoo Ltd in relation to these incidents is now a matter for the Court.

At the conclusion of a four-day inquest Miss McClay’s inquest last September her family said they were left with unanswered questions. The jury recorded a narrative verdict which did not apportion any blame. The 10-person panel concluded that Miss McClay was pounced on while working in the keeper’s corridor of the tiger house – an area the tigers should never have reached – after the animal walked through two sliding openings and one door on May 24 last year. The inquest heard that systems were in place at the park to ensure animals and keepers remained apart at all times in the tiger house by lockable self-closing doors. But the door separating the keepers’ corridor and the tigers’ “dark den” had been ajar and not locked. Two internal sliding gates were also open which allowed Padang and a female tiger, Alisha, to walk into the “light den”, through into the “dark den” and then into the corridor where Miss McClay worked. It remains unclear how and why this happened.

Barrow Borough Council is unable to comment further on the decision to prosecute.

There was no one available to comment at the zoo and The Evening Mail was told that if there was it would be a “no comment” statement.