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Construction firm ordered to pay £550,000 fine for double corporate manslaughter conviction

A construction firm has been fined £550,000 after two men fell through plywood hoardings around a building site in the early hours of 19 October 2013.  Monavon Construction Ltd pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to two counts of corporate manslaughter (contrary to section 1 Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007) and a further charge of failing to discharge its duty to persons other than employees in breach of section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Monovan Construction Ltd were responsible for the renovation of a basement flat at the junction of Hampstead Road with Netley Street, near Euston Station in London.  Work had been ongoing at the site for approximately three years and was nearing completion.  On 14 October 2013 work had begun to change the hoarding surrounding the site so that the pavement could be reinstated.  On 18 October this work was completed leaving the 4ft hoardings fixed by wooden struts to a low wall behind measuring between 130mm to 280mm. Beyond this small wall was a drop of approximately 12ft down to the basement area.  A joint Metropolitan Police Service and Health and Safety Executive investigation found that the hoardings were insufficiently fixed and that only a negligible force was required to make them collapse.

In October 2013 two males were seen on CCTV to be arguing near the site which culminated in a physical fight where both males fell into the hoardings.  They both then fell 13ft into the basement and suffered catastrophic head injuries which were fatal.

At the sentencing hearing His Honour Judge Worsley QC remarked that the deaths were an ‘accident waiting to happen’ and were ‘wholly preventable’.

Monavan Construction, which has an annual turnover of around £500,000 was fined £250,000 for each of the deaths plus £50,000 for the health and safety breach.  It was also ordered to pay £23,653 costs.  The level of fines ordered in this case fell into the top end of the sentencing guidelines for ‘micro organisations’ - firms with a turnover of up to £2 million where the starting point for Category A offences is £450,000 and £300,000 for Category B offences.

Since the offence of corporate manslaughter came into force there have been just 20 convictions.

Click here for information on how Brett Wilson LLP solicitors can assist you in corporate manslaughter and/or health and safety proceedings.


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