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THREE YEAR JAIL TERM IMPOSED FOR MANSLAUGHTER

Owner of dismantling imprisoned and client director fined over death

The proprietor of a dismantling firm has been jailed and a director of the client company fined after a demolition worker fell to his death from a cherry picker which collapsed when it was struck by a falling roof beam in December 2008.

Ken Joyce, 53, of County Durham, was working for Allan Turnbull (A&H Site Line Boring and Machining T/A) dismantling the structural steelwork of the roof of the Burning Hall at the former Swan Hunter Shipyard in Wallsend, Newcastle.

During a four-week trial Newcastle Crown Court heard how Mr Joyce was working from cherry picker while two colleagues were working from another cherry picker and a crane.

Competence not checked and lifting plans absent

The men were dismantling the structure and were using a crane to lower the steel beams to the ground.

Whilst  removing a beam brace connecting two plate girders, one of the plate girders struck the basket of the cherry picker in which Mr Joyce was standing, knocking the equipment over. Mr Joyce fell to the ground below and suffered serious head injuries. He was pronounced dead soon after.

North Eastern Maritime Offshore Cluster Ltd (NEMOC) had engaged Allan Turnbull to undertake the dismantling work. The jury was told that NEMOC and director Christopher William Taylor neglected to check Mr Turnbull had the necessary competence to carry out the work.

Investigators also established that Allan Turnbull failed to adequately plan the work. There was a lack of suitable and sufficient lifting plans to ensure a safe system of work was in place for the dismantling of the structural steelwork.

Live lost as a result of collective failures

Allan Turnbull, 61, of Boundary Cottages Farm, Inkerman, Tow Law, County Durham, was found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter following the trial. He had earlier pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) by virtue of Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He was sentenced to three years in prison.

To be found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter the defendant has to owe a duty of care to the deceased; be in breach of this duty; the breach has to have caused the death of the deceased; and the defendant’s negligence was gross i.e. showed such a disregard for the life and safety of others as to amount to a crime and deserve punishment.

North Eastern Maritime Offshore Cluster Ltd (NEMOC) was fined a nominal £1 for each for two HSW Act offences. The company is now in liquidation.

Christopher William Taylor, aged 51, of  Newcastle, was found guilty of breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) by virtue of Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He was fined a total of £30,000 (£15,000 for each offence) and ordered to pay £50,000 costs.

After the case, which was brought by the Crown Prosecution Service, HSE Inspector Emma Scott, said:

“This was a tragedy that could easily have been prevented had a safe system of work been in place. Instead Ken Joyce lost his life as a result of collective failures which included not preparing in advance a detailed plan of how the work should be carried out and no lifting plans to ensure the safe removal of the beams.

Allan Turnbull was also prosecuted in November 2005 after an employee sustained serious leg injuries while dismantling a redundant brick manufacturing plant.

Chief Inspector Mark Anastasi, of Northumbria Police, said:

“This is a tragic case. Ken left home to go to work and never returned. The failures from both the individuals and the company showed a total disregard for safe working practices.

Ken’s employer failed to improve his work following a similar incident in 2005, yet he continued to perform dismantling work.”

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One Response to “THREE YEAR JAIL TERM IMPOSED FOR MANSLAUGHTER”

  1. DISMANTLING FIRM OWNER GUILTY OF MANSLAUGHTER | PP Construction Safety News Desk Says:

    […] SENTENCING – SEE UPDATE […]