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DIRECTOR AND FOREMAN JAILED OVER FATAL FALL

Failure to act on HSE advice ended in gross negligence manslaughter

Two men have been sentenced after being found guilty of manslaughter in connection with the death of a construction worker in Brighton in October 2014.

Michael Holland, aged 69, a company director of Kings Road, Brighton, and Grant Oakes, aged 46, a site foreman of Elm Drive, Hove, had denied a charge each of gross negligence manslaughter in connection with the death of 55-year-old carpenter David Clark.

Mr Clark died after falling 14ft through a gap in the first floor of a building he was working on at Stanmer Park stables a month before. A jury found both men guilty after a three-week long trial at Lewes Crown Court on 8 June.

The Court heard that Holland and Oakes had been warned by HSE of dangers on the site a year before the death. The inspector visited unannounced in September 2013 and found “extremely poor standards” for work being carried out at height.

Nine month prison terms

Holland and Oakes appeared at Hove Crown Court on Friday 15 September 2017 and were each sentenced to nine months in prison. Holland was also have to pay £35,000 in costs and Oakes will pay £10,000.

At the start of the three-week long trial, Holland, owner and sole director of Hove-based Cherrywood Investments Ltd, pleaded guilty to an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. In doing so he accepted that neglect on his part meant that persons on the site were exposed to risks to their health and safely when working at height. The company, Cherrywood Investments Ltd, also admitted a similar offence.

Oakes was also charged with an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. He was accused of failing to take suitable measures to prevent, as far as possible, any person working on the site, falling a distance liable to cause them personal injury. He had denied the offence but was found guilty.

Holland admitted a charge of consenting or conniving in a failure to discharge a duty under section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 due to neglect. Holland’s Hove-based company, formerly called Cherrywood Investments Ltd, also admitted a charge of failure to discharge a duty contrary to section 33 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 – namely failed to ensure that persons not in their employment were not exposed to risks to their health and safety when working at height.

Mr Clark’s fiance Beverley Clark said:

“The only good that can come out of all this, is if it stops even one single company from cutting corners to earn a few extra pounds in profit.

It should make individual people stop and think, “No I’m not taking that risk, not even if it means losing my job” because you can get another job. You cannot get another life.”

Detective Inspector Mick Jones said:

“I hope that these convictions send a strong message to those within the construction industry that the safety of those working on sites should be of paramount importance. Where this is not the case, the Health and Safety Executive and police will tenaciously pursue them and bring them to justice.”

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