A COUNCIL has been fined after a pregnant woman lost her baby when a tree branch fell on to her car.

Wirral Borough Council pleaded guilty at Liverpool Magistrates' Court to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act, a spokesman for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said.

Elizabeth Stear, 39, was 36 weeks pregnant when the large branch fell through the windscreen of her car and hit her in the stomach as she was on the school run with her 13-year-old daughter and six-year-old son on November 10, 2016.

She was taken to hospital where her baby, Lucia Jayne Stear, was delivered by emergency caesarean, but died 15 hours later.

An HSE investigation found that the branch, which fell from a mature horse chestnut tree in Arrowe Park Road, had begun to separate from the main trunk of the tree for at least one growing season but had not been inspected for at least 13 years.

The authority failed to identify and manage risks from falling trees and to implement an inspection system, despite a similar incident in the same road in January 2015, the investigation found.

The HSE spokesman said the council was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £49,363.

Mrs Stear said: "Usually when you think of your children, you remember things like holidays, achievements, sports days, family days out, their favourite foods.

"We don't have those memories for Lucia.

"We would like to thank our family and friends, Aintree Hospital, Liverpool Women's Hospital neonatal team, the midwives, Honeysuckle team, the police and Claire House, who are still supporting me today."

HSE inspector Rohan Lye said: "There are no winners in this sad case. Councils have a duty to proactively assess and control risks to members of the public.

"This tragedy could so easily have been avoided if the risk had been identified, warnings had been heeded and an adequate tree management system had been implemented.

"Tragically, due to these systemic failures, Elizabeth and Alex, together with their two children, have been left without Lucia and have had to restructure their lives from the devastating impact they have each individually experienced."