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School apologises for razor blunder

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 5/04/2017
Johnny Depp starred as Sweeney Todd in the movie version © NZN Johnny Depp starred as Sweeney Todd in the movie version

A year after two students had their necks slashed by a cut-throat razor during a school play, Auckland's Saint Kentigern college has publicly apologised for the potentially deadly prop.

It must also pay reparation to the victims.

In April last year, two 16-year-old boys - performing in the production of Stephen Sondheim's blood-soaked 1979 Broadway musical - were taken to hospital after they were injured by the razor blade, which had been covered in foam and duct-tape.

At the time, the school's head, Stephen Cole, told media the prop had been checked over many times, didn't have a sharp edge and he was confident the health and safety situation was "strong".

But on Wednesday evening, the school's trust board issued a statement apologising for the accident and for the harm caused to the families.

"Saint Kentigern accepts that it should have done more to acknowledge the seriousness of what happened immediately after the accident," deputy chairman John Kernohan said.

"The injuries were not minor. The injuries were significant and life-threatening."

WorkSafe has not prosecuted the school but instead, for the first time, has used an "enforceable undertaking" process.

It was deemed the appropriate action considering it was serious but an isolated incident, and WorkSafe had taken into account the wishes of the victims and their families, says the agency's Brett Murray.

Saint Kentigern must accept responsibility for the blunder, undertake a restorative justice process with the families and take steps to prevent any sort of repeat.

Set in Victorian London, Sweeney Todd contains scenes where the characters sitting in a barber's chair have their throats slit with a cut-throat razor.

They are then dispatched through a trapdoor to be cut up into filling for meat pies.

Audience members on opening night reported not seeing anything untoward happen on stage.

The incident happened just two days after the introduction of tough new rules came into force over workplace health and safety.

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