Fury at low fines in Liverpool crane death case

Aaron Morby 13 years ago
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A crane driver and hire firm Bryn Thomas have been fined a total of £7,000 after an overloaded crane toppled and crushed a worker in Liverpool.

Supervisor Mark Thornton, 46, was killed when a six-tonne steel column hit him on a Liverpool building site four years ago.

Thornton was guiding a steel column with a rope when the jibbed Demag AC 150 telescopic mobile crane buckled and toppled over.

The steel beam struck Thornton on the head and shoulders killing him instantly.

The crane driver, crane hire firm and construction firm that employed Thornton were all prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive.

North Wales mobile specialist Bryn Thomas Crane Hire admitted health and safety breaches for failing to ensure that its equipment was in good working order.

Liverpool Crown Court fined the firm £4,500 – a fine ‘significantly reduced’ because the company is in administration.

Judge Nigel Gilmour, QC, said he was unable to impose an appropriate fine of £300,000 on Bryn Thomas Crane Hire because it had now gone into administration with massive debts.

The mobile crane hirer was placed into administration earlier this year, although its assets were bought by a company trading as Bryn Thomas Cranes.

Merseyside crane operator Frederick Scott was fined £2,500 after he admitted to several health and safety breaches including failing to check the weight of the column and that a lift plan had been completed.

The driver, who had only three months experience, also admitted failing to check the crane’s overload alarm was audible and override switches were working, neither of which was the case.

Thornton’s employer and the third defendant Sitewell Construction is to be sentenced at a later date while its financial situation is examined by the court’s forensic accountants.

Thornton’s daughter Cheryl told the Liverpool Daily Post: “No justice was brought whatsoever. It could have been prevented and that is what makes it all the worse – it did not have to happen.

“These companies get a minimal fine and it is all over. It is not over for us. We have to live with this forever.”

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