Backlash over train guard jail term

Share Button

Georgia Varley © Facebook

A Merseyrail train guard who was jailed after being found guilty of manslaughter following the tragic death of teenager Georgia Varley is the subject of an online campaign to have him freed.

The 16-year-old was on her way to a night out in Liverpool from the Wirral and was intoxicated on vodka and the party drug known as Mcat when she fell between the platform and the train at James Street station.

Train guard Christopher McGee had given the signal for the train to depart despite being able to see that Georgia was leaning against the train. He was jailed for five years for what the judge described as his “gross negligence”.

A jury at Liverpool Crown Court heard the details of the fateful night of 22nd October 2011.

Birkenhead Sixth Form student Georgia, from Moreton, Wirral, had been at a house party celebrating a friend’s 18th birthday and was on the last train to Liverpool, heading for Garlands nightclub with friends for a night out.

Christopher McGee

The court heard how Georgia had fallen over several times at the party, on the train and at the Merseyrail ticket office, before getting off the train twice by mistake, firstly at Meols station when she realised she had left her bag at the party, and secondly at James Street station.

McGee, a 45-year-old train guard  from Wallasey, has been sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, and had been working for Merseyrail for 20 years before the incident.

The court case made national news and the sentencing has sparked controversy as well as arguments between locals and people from around the country, with many taking to news comment boxes and social networking websites to voice their opinions.

A Facebook page entitled ‘Free Christopher McGee’ has received over 1,600 likes since it was created and an e-petition to have him released has been set up.

Many are also taking to Georgia’s Facebook tribute page writing that they believe the sentencing has been too harsh, and others allege that the teenager’s parents are in some way to blame.

CCTV footage of Georgia Varley at James Street Station in Liverpool

This comes days after Georgia’s heartbroken father Paul Varley made a plea to the press and public to leave the family alone and let them grieve in peace.

Public opinion on the matter is strong, and not only have comments made online been deemed offensive to Georgia’s family, but some have also been told by fellow Facebook users that they could possibly be in contempt of court for publishing various details online during the trial.

Some supporting McGee describe him as a hard-working family man and say he would never put anybody’s life in danger.

It is clear that the case has divided locals and the aftermath of Georgia’s death and McGee’s trial has left people angry on both sides.

About Jess Etherington, JMU Journalism