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CORPORATE MANSLAUGHTER OFFENCE PROMPTS RECORD FINE

Third manslaughter prosecution penalty to be paid by instalments to 2015

Lion Steel Ltd of Cheshire has been ordered to pay £480,000 in fines plus 50% of the prosecution costs after breaching the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 (CMCH) in relation to the death of 45-year-old employee. Steven Berry died after he fell through a fragile roof panel at the company premises in May 2008.

Under CMCH Act 2007 companies and organisations can be found guilty of corporate manslaughter if the way in which their activities are ‘managed or organised’ causes a death, and this amounts to a ‘gross breach’ of a duty of care to the victim. A substantial part of the breach must have been in the way activities were managed by ‘senior management’.

The fine is the highest fine imposed to date under the CMCH Act 2007 and must be paid in four installments ending in September 2015. Judge Gilbart QC said he would regard it as a “most regrettable consequence” if the fine were to imperil the employment of former colleagues of the deceased. He imposed the fine of £480,000 adding that:

“The Guideline refers to a fine of less than £ 500,000 seldom being appropriate after a trial. I am quite satisfied that, with a longer payment period, that a loan can be raised on the buildings.”

As regards cost he imposed an order for £ 84,000 to be paid within 2 years of hearing date. Speaking after the case, Steffan Groch, DWF law firm, which represented Lion Steel, said:

“we note that the Judge has accepted the company had a good safety record and reflected upon the potential effect of a large fine. It is also noted that the Judge reduced the prosecution costs by almost 50%.

Today’s conclusion of the prosecution against Lion Steel comes just over four years after the accident to Steven Berry, something which the Judge thought was unacceptable on the part of the prosecution authorities.”

Alison Storey, specialist prosecutor in the special crime division of the CPS, said at the time of conviction:

Lion Steel Ltd has pleaded guilty at Manchester Crown Square to the corporate manslaughter of Steven Berry at the Hyde site on Johnson Brook Road. This is the second time a company has been charged with, and now convicted for, the new offence of corporate manslaughter.

Steven Berry fell through a fragile roof panel and tragically died as a result of injuries sustained in the fall on 29 May 2008. My thoughts are very much with Steven’s family at this difficult time.”

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