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SITE MANAGER JAILED OVER DEATH OF PASSER-BY

Failure to secure windows led to death and manslaughter sentence

A construction site manager as been sentenced to a 12 month prison term (Friday 5 May) for manslaughter by gross negligence after a woman walking past a construction site died when three window frames weighing more than half a tonne fell on her.

Amanda Telfer, aged 43, was crushed to death on 30 August 2012 in London when the large unsecured frames toppled over as she was walking along the pavement past a construction site in Hanover Square. She died at the scene from massive crush injuries.

The window frames – one around 3.2m square and two approximately 3.3m x 1.8m – had been delivered the previous day but could not be fitted immediately due to other delays on site.

The frames were left on the pavement overnight, leaning against the building. No efforts were made to secure them and no barrier placed around them. No checks were made on the frames when individual defendants arrived on site the next morning.

Frames toppled by door moved by wind

It is believed a door in the building blew open in the wind, hitting the frames and causing them to topple. A worker inside tried but was unable to restrain the frames. Several members of the public came to help and lifted the frames off Amanda. However, she was unconscious and not breathing and died at the scene.

Officers at the scene were told the frames had been secured to the wall with a ratchet strap. Evidence showed this was not the case. The defendants were sentenced as follows:

  • Kelvin Adsett – aged 64 (10.8.52) of Slough, Berkshire was convicted at the Old Bailey on Thursday, 23 March, of manslaughter by gross negligence and offences contrary to Section 7a of the Health and Safety at Work Act. He was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment for manslaughter and nine months’ imprisonment for the Health and Safety offence – sentences to run concurrently.
  • Damian Lakin-Hall – aged 50 (01.01.67) of Cobham, Surrey was convicted of offences contrary to Section 7a of the Health and Safety at Work Act. He was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years.
  • IS Europe Ltd – of Slough was convicted of offences under Sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act. The company was fined £100,000 but the court heard their accounts contained only £250.

Prosecution costs of £100,000 were also awarded divided equally between the Metropolitan Police, Health and Safety Executive and Crown Prosecution Service.

Risk not addressed and allowed to continue

The Met Police Homicide and Major Crime Command investigated in conjunction with HSE.. Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Chalmers said:

“Today’s sentencing brings to a conclusion an incredibly long and complex investigation that has taken almost five years to bring before the courts. I am grateful for the hard work of all those involved, my investigating officers, the prosecution team and the Health and Safety Executive, and would like to commend the patience and dignity shown by Amanda’s family over this long period.

The enforcement of the law is key to safeguarding workers and the public alike and this case demonstrates, unfortunately in the most tragic way, what happens when individuals and companies do not take their health and safety obligations seriously.

Each had a responsibility for the safety of the construction site but failed to deal with a basic task that very obviously then presented a serious hazard. Amanda’s death was completely avoidable and it is only right that those who failed in their duty their day have been held to account.”

HSE Inspector Jack Wilby said:

“This long and complex case, with multiple duty holders, shows a successful outcome following collaborative working between a number of agencies. With our knowledge and expertise, we supported both the police investigation and the prosecution brought by the Crown Prosecution Service.

An obvious risk was not addressed and allowed to continue. Those sentenced today had responsibilities to protect others from their actions. The construction work was not planned, managed or monitored properly.

Barry and Ann Telfer, Amanda’s parents, said following the verdict:

“Amanda was a bright lovely professional woman living her life to the full and making plans for the future. Her future was taken from her when she was crushed to death by half ton window frames which took two seconds to fall on her. The frames had been left standing, almost vertically, at the side of a public pavement, unsecured to anything, unattended and with no safety barriers around them.

If construction companies and the people who work for them are not held to account for such high levels of negligence and incompetence then none of us is safe walking the streets next to construction sites. The Health and Safety training being given is totally inadequate, if risk of death to passers-by is ignored.”

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