Builder admits manslaughter after friend’s death plunge

Grant Prior 3 years ago
Share

A builder who admitted failing to safeguard one of his employees has been sentenced to 18 months in prison, suspended for two years.

Michael Turner, 49, of Earls Colne, Colchester, appeared at Inner London Crown Court after pleading guilty to gross negligent manslaughter after one of his employees, and friend of 15 years, fell 30 feet through a roof and died.

Robert Bird, 57, of Colchester, was carrying out work as an employee of M T Construction, owned by Turner, on a barn roof in Kennett, near Newmarket, on May 20 last year when he fell to his death.

A joint investigation was immediately launch by Cambridgeshire police and the Health and Safety Executive.

Turner was arrested on June 2 last year on suspicion of gross negligent manslaughter; he answered ‘no comment’ to all questions put before him in interview.

A number of witnesses were also questioned as part of the investigation and officers were told how Turner had a ‘near miss’ just days before Bird’s death on the same roof.

Turner had stepped on a panel, heard a crack before moving away and seeing the roof panel cave in.

In a report carried out by a Special Inspector for the HSE, extracts read: “M T Construction developed a system of work which relied on using new roof sheets as a safe working platform but this was fundamentally flawed in that the unsafe practice of ‘walking the bolts’ was routinely adopted while laying out and attaching the fixing bars.

“A competent roofing contractor would not be carrying out the work adopting the system of work adopted by M T Construction, and a competent roofing supervisor would not have put his workforce in such a vulnerable position.

“The standard of safety management exhibited fell far below the standard expected of a competent roofing contractor and was woefully inadequate.”

The report also concluded Bird either slipped, tripped or walked from a newly fixed sheet onto a fragile one, and as a result of the lack of a barrier, fell to his death.

Detective Chief Inspector Jon McAdam, from Cambridgeshire Constabulary, said: “This truly tragic event just goes to show how important it is to have appropriate health and safety measures in place.

“Turner has already paid the ultimate price of losing one of his employees, and friends; that will be with him forever. My thoughts are with both families at this sad time.”

Linda Christian-Booth, who led the HSE team, said: “Falls from height, and in particular falls involving fragile roofs, are one of the main causes of work-related deaths in Britain. The risks are therefore well-known and documented, as is the guidance on how to reduce these risks.

“Adequate precautions were not taken in this case, such as netting and edge protection, which has led to the dreadful tragedy of Mr Bird falling 30 feet to his death.”

Upon sentencing, the judge accepted the depth of Turner’s remorse and suspended his sentence for two years after stating he felt an immediate prison sentence was not appropriate in this case.

Turner must also complete 240 hours of unpaid work as part of his sentence.

Latest news

Shake-up for £2.9bn MoD hard FM contracts

Post-Carillion bid race for MoD estate and housing regional FM contracts
6 hours ago

Caddick takes workforce plastic-free

Workers given aluminium drinks bottles in bid to bin single-use plastics
3 hours ago

Wates wins 7th Leeds Wellington Place job

Work will start of £35m 4 Wellington Place project next month
13 hours ago

Kier targets £50m disposals to cut £375m debt

Firm sets out debt reduction plan in robust year-end results
18 hours ago

Betting Spy: Spurs to shrug off recent troubles

Tottenham can kick-start a win treble with Leicester and Crystal Palace
4 hours ago

Keltbray concrete structures boss exits

Keltbray Structures MD Gordon Dunne on gardening leave
1 day ago

141 jobs axed as M&E specialist George Birchall fails

Larger FM business George Birchall Service avoids administration
18 hours ago

Morgan Sindall bags £384m London scheme first phase

Hackney scheme includes an academy, leisure centre and six blocks of flats
18 hours ago

Mace confirms £180m Olympic Park East Village deal

Firm will fine-tune its 'rising factory' method on the No6 East Village project
18 hours ago

Contractor trials mixed reality headsets on school site

BIM and Microsoft HoloLens used to check M&E work
2 days ago

PM pledges extra £2bn for housing associations over 10 years

Longterm funding will be made available from 2022-2029
2 days ago

Jacobs to lead Edinburgh city centre transformation plan

Team will set out plan for historic overhaul of streets and public space
2 days ago

Costain and Galliford Try fined £2.8m after worker loses toes

Massive fine after accident at Cheshire water treatment works
2 days ago

Boost your online presence – join the new Enquirer Directory

New site for suppliers and buyers will showcase their products, services and latest stories
5 months ago

Van Elle shareholders stage AGM revolt

Shareholders block board's ability to issue new shares for acquisitions
2 days ago

£100m Bristol sports arena plan at Ashton Gate stadium

Sports and convention centre will be attached to Lansdown Stand
2 days ago

Balfour Beatty raises £43m from hospital stake sale

Balfour sells 50% stake in Fife Hospital PPP
2 days ago

Kier offloads pensions unit for £3.5m

Third party pension management business administers half of all police pension
3 days ago

Willmott Dixon clinches £38m Winchester sports centre

Work to start in Spring 2019 on major leisure and sports complex
2 days ago

Architect TP Bennett reaches record turnover

Manchester office grows on back of city building boom
2 days ago

Brexit migration plan would “cripple construction”

Industry pleas ignored over need for steady flow of low-skilled site workers
3 days ago

Wates wins £16m Stockport college revamp

Work is due to start in the early new year on Wellington Road Campus
2 days ago

Balfour Beatty pioneers plastic pylons in Scotland

140 composite poles installed by new helicopter crane in just five days
3 days ago

Plan for 55-storey Manchester student skyscraper

Plans submitted for 168m tall red brick tower at Hulme Street
3 days ago

Crossrail sparks threaten stoppages over lack of loos

Electricians threaten to down tools at Bond Street station site
3 days ago

37 firms to pitch innovations for Heathrow expansion

Search for Heathrow’s Innovation Partners progresses for 3rd runway
3 days ago

Engie lands £52m Newbury PRS deal from Grainger

Construction to start by end of year on new "urban village"
3 days ago

Former Severfield boss joins Billington as chairman

Ian Lawson returns to constructional steelwork after recovering from illness
3 days ago

Czech facade specialist wins second scheme in Manchester

Sipral wins facade package for twin tower flats
3 days ago

Keepmoat closes West Midlands office after £13m hit

House builder aims to build more than 4,000 homes this year
3 days ago

Contractor services