health and safety case

Property developer and foreman jailed for manslaughter

A property developer and a foreman have been jailed for manslaughter following the death of a carpenter on a site in Brighton.

Michael Holland, 69 and foreman Grant Oakes, 46, had each denied charges of gross negligence manslaughter in connection with the death.

55-year-old carpenter David Clark died on October 28, 2014, following an accident. He had fallen through a gap in the first floor of a building he was working on at Stanmer Park stables a month before.

A jury found Holland and Oakes guilty following a three-week trial at Lewes Crown Court.

The pair were sentenced to nine months in prison each. Holland was also ordered to pay £35,000 in costs. Oakes will pay £10,000.

Lewes Crown Court heard that Clark, who worked as a subcontractor for Holland’s company, was airlifted to hospital in a critical condition after falling 14ft to the ground.

He died the following month.

Holland, owner and sole director of Hove-based Cherrywood Investments Ltd, pleaded guilty to an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

This showed he accepted that neglect on his part meant that people 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 accused of failing to take suitable measures to reasonably prevent any person working on the site falling a distance liable to cause them personal injury. He had denied the offence but was found guilty.

The victim’s fiancée Beverley Clark said: “These two men had a duty of care to a man that worked for them.

“That man was my fiancé, that man went to work one morning and never came home again as a result of an accident that should never have occurred.

If this awful experience I have had to go through means it highlights the dangers and stops other families having to suffer the heartache and loss that we suffer daily, then I can take a little peace from this knowledge.

“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.”

The Detective Inspector on the case, Mick Jones, said he hoped the convictions would send a strong message to 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,” he said.

“People often blame health and safety for stopping people doing everyday things but the whole reason is to prevent serious injury and death like the tragic death of Dave Clark.

“I hope this sends message that are real consequences of a blatant disregard for the well being of their workers.”


Don’t risk your workers’ health and safety – give Ferguson Legal a call: 01224 900025


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