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Wed May 12 2021

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Bosses found guilty of manslaughter after Brighton building site death

9 Jun 17 Two men have been convicted of the manslaughter of a carpenter who fell to his death on a building site in Brighton.

David Clark sustained serious head injuries when he fell through a first floor void while working on Stanmer Park Stables in September 2014 and died later in hospital.

Michael Holland, the owner and sole director of Cherrywood Investments Ltd, and Grant Oakes, the site foreman, were both found guilty of manslaughter due to gross negligence following a trial at Lewes Crown Court. The two mean, along with the company, were also convicted of health and safety offences.

The court heard that work on the site had previously been stopped after an inspection by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) in September 2013 found unsafe working at height. They noted numerous openings in the first floor, through which anyone working there could fall. They also found that inadequate health and safety training had been undertaken.

Following this, Mr Oakes attended training, including some specifically related to ensuring the safety of those working at height. However, despite this and additional advice from the HSE, standards at the site actually deteriorated, leading to Mr Clark's fall.

Michael Holland (69) was convicted of gross negligence manslaughter and consenting or conniving in the failure of the company to discharge its duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act

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Grant Oakes (46) was convicted of gross negligence manslaughter and failing to discharge a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Cherrywood Investments Ltd was convicted of failure to discharge a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Gail Purdy from the Crown Prosecution Service said after the hearing: "This has been a complex case to bring to court. In addition to the manslaughter charges, careful consideration had to be given to additional charges under health and safety legislation. To do this, we had to prove there had been a total failure by the individuals and the company to undertake their responsibilities for the safety of their employees on site.

"From the evidence gathered, it became clear both men visited the site regularly and would have seen the conditions, which included work being carried out with voids that someone could fall through, but they did nothing to prevent this happening.

"Mr Holland completely failed to grasp his personal responsibilities and even went as far as to blame the victim for his own death, despite having previously been advised by the Health & Safety Executive of the measures that needed to be taken on site."

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