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CORPORATE MANSLAUGHTER CONVICTION AFTER TRIAL

Overall execution of construction project fell below required standard

Cavendish Masonry Limited has been convicted (22 May) of corporate manslaughter following the death of David Evans, aged 23, in February 2010. The company had pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 at an earlier hearing.

On 9 February 2010, David Evans, a 23-year-old stone mason’s mate, was erecting a large wall at the Well Barn Estate in Moulsford, Wallingford. A two tonne limestone block fell from a concrete lintel and crushed Mr Evans. He was taken to the John Radcliffe Hospital by air ambulance and was pronounced dead later the same day.

Cavendish was found guilty of a gross breach of its duty of care in management and organisation of its activities at The Well Barn estate, by failing to take reasonable care in the planning and execution of those activities, contrary to section 1 (1) of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.

Thames Valley Police Det Con David Edwards said:

“I am very pleased with the outcome today. Although nothing will ever bring David back or change what happened, this conviction will provide the family with some sense of justice, and help to ensure nothing like this happens again.

The investigation was jointly undertaken by Thames Valley Police and the Health and Safety Executive, with the majority of vital evidence being provided by experts from the Health and Safety Executive who have undertaken complex testing. I am pleased that the joint investigation has brought about this conviction.”

The company is now due to be sentenced on 3 July 2014. The Sentencing Guidelines Council has issued definitive guidelines on sentencing following work related deaths under Corporate Manslaughter and Health and Safety law.

Block required restraint before slings removed

Following the verdict, HSE Inspector Peter Snelgrove, who supported the police-led investigation, said:

“David Evans’ tragic death was completely avoidable had Cavendish Masonry Limited properly planned and managed the installation of the heavy limestone.

The lift itself was relatively straightforward, and there is no blame on the part of the crane operator who put the stone in place. The stone toppled because its shape was such that it was potentially unstable when free standing, yet nothing was used to fix it in place. It needed to be sufficiently restrained before the lifting slings attaching it to the crane were removed.

The drawings for the work were wholly insufficient, and the overall execution of the project fell significantly below the standard required and expected of a competent masonry company.”

A spokesperson for the Evans family said:

“We hope that this trial and the conclusions that are reached serve as an example to others in the industry. We hope that it is understood that the Health and Safety legislation is there to provide a safe working environment for all employees. We hope that it is understood that following such legislation and its guidelines provides a working environment where incidents such as the one that claimed the life of David are easily avoided.

Most of all, we hope that these lessons are learned and communicated throughout the stone masonry and construction industry. We do not want another family to go through the devastation and uncertainty that we have experienced over the last four years and the pain of loss which will always be with us. We do not want another family to lose someone as special as David John Evans.”

 

 

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