Manslaughter Conviction for Brighton Developer and Foreman

Money is a motivator for both good and bad health and safety working. If you cut corners enough and get lucky with the law and potential tragedy you can save a packet on any project. The problem with that, even if you have no conscience, is that big fines await those that get caught. If a sense of humanity or the fear of a financial penalty is not enough to ensure due diligence then maybe a manslaughter conviction might work.

Mike Holland and his foreman Grant Oakes will find out their fate when they appear at Lewes Crown Court on 21st July 2017. Both were convicted the other day of manslaughter in the case of David Clark.

Mr Clark, 55, had been working on a stable conversion when he fell through a gap in the first floor. He was there working as a carpenter and died a month after the incident in September 2014.

Holland is the sole director of Cherrywood Investments Ltd, he and Oakes were found to have been grossly negligent to the point that it qualified as manslaughter. The prosecutor said it had been a complex case to bring to trial and evidence was heard of previously ignored HSE warnings.

Gail Purdy of the CPS said: ‘¬†From the evidence gathered, it became clear both men visited the site regularly and would have seen the conditions, which included work being carried out with voids that someone could fall through, but they did nothing to prevent this happening.’

Evidence was also heard that after being inspected in 2013 the specific dangers to those working at height had been raised with Holland and Oakes. Oakes attended training in safety on the subject as a result but little had changed.

Mr Clark suffered head injuries in the fall and died in hospital. The company was also found guilty of associated breaches in health and safety legislation.

Lessons Learned

The obvious one about not being able to escape your responsibilities if tragedy strikes. Another obvious one about not ignoring HSE warnings and finally for us as workers if it doesn’t seem safe then maybe the paycheck is not worth it. The latter point is all to easy to say yet when the mortgage payment is due? It is valid nonetheless. Simply put, these things should not be happening in 2017. Murphy’s Law springs to mind, I would have thought that at least would be ingrained by now.

Take Care

Chris Hodge

 

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