Company admits death-fall guilt; bosses walk free

Date published: 04 July 2012

A COMPANY has admitted causing the death of a worker in a 40ft fall — but three of its bosses, including one from Shaw, have walked free from court.

Maintenance worker Stephen Berry (45) died while working on a leaky roof at the premises of Lion Steel Equipment Ltd at Johnson Brook Road in Dukinfield in May 2008.

Mr Berry, from Swinton, had received no health and safety training in the work he was doing, was not properly equipped and was working unsupervised.

Three Lion Steel directors — Kevin Palliser (59) from Rishworth Rise, Shaw, Richard Williams (42), from Hawarden, North Wales, and Graham Coupe (59) from Glossop — went on trial at Manchester Crown Court charged with manslaughter and neglect. The company was also charged with failing to discharge its duty under the Health and Safety Act.

At the close of the prosecution case the judge directed that charges against Mr Williams be dropped because he couldn’t be held personally responsible for Mr Berry’s safety. The presecuion then dropped similar charges against the other defendants.

The charge of failing to discharge duty was dropped against the company, but a guilty plea was entered to an alternative corporate manslaughter charge.

No individual will face punishment over Mr Berry’s death, but the firm will face a penalty, due on July 19.

Since the company has admitted responsibility for Mr Berry’s death, his family is more likely to be successful in a civil action.

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