Director jailed for supplying fatal asbestos roof panels

Grant Prior 8 years ago
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A company director has been sentenced to 12 months in prison after his company illegally supplied roofing panels containing asbestos.

Robert Marsh’s offences came to light after a 56-year-old steel erector, who was roofing a barn using the panels, fell through the fragile material and later died.

Marsh, sole Director of RM Developments (2005) Ltd of Newport, Shropshire, had supplied pre-used roofing sheets containing white asbestos to a farming partnership building a barn in Frankley, Worcestershire.

During a three-day hearing, Worcester Crown Court heard that after Marsh supplied the sheets, the partnership hired steel erector Tony Podmore to use the materials to build the barn.

But during the final phase of its construction on 8 June 2011, Podmore fell through the fragile asbestos cement roof sheets, landing on the concrete floor more than six metres below.

He later died of his injuries in hospital.

The farm partnership had agreed to pay £4,000 for what they thought would be substantial roofing material.

But Marsh supplied poor-quality, second-hand roof panels that had cost him nothing and he had paid just £250 to transport them to the site.

The court was told that after the fall, Marsh tried to persuade witnesses to hide the sheets that he had supplied telling one, ‘We’ll all take the fall for this’.

He also told Podmore’s daughter that her father had fallen from the roof edge rather than through the fragile roof sheets and later tried to persuade Podmore’s relatives not to report the incident to the HSE.

Marsh of RM Developments (2005) Ltd, of Market Drayton, Shropshire, changed his plea to guilty on the first day day of his trial to safety breaches.

As well as the 12 month prison sentence he was disqualified from being a director for six years and ordered to pay £10,000 costs.

Passing sentence, His Honour Judge Michael Cullum said Mr Marsh’s actions were “wholly reprehensible” adding that he acted out of “selfish self-interest” to maximise profit at the expense of health and safety.

Speaking after the prosecution, HSE Inspector Luke Messenger said: “The supply of materials containing asbestos has been illegal for many years.

“Mr Marsh demonstrated a complete disregard for the law for his financial gain. In this case, the weak second-hand panels he supplied were a significant contributing factor to the death of Mr Podmore.”

Mr Podmore’s widow, Gail, said: “We have lost a fantastic, hard-working family man. The gap in our hearts can never be filled. Anthony can never be replaced, nor would we want him to be.

“We are extremely grateful to HSE  for their hard work. It has been a long three years but we finally have some closure and we are very pleased to see justice has been served.”

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