Manslaughter convictions over building site death in Brighton

08/06/2017

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 individuals, along with the company, were also convicted of health and safety offences.

The court heard that work on the site had previously been stopped following an inspection by the Health and Safety Executive in September 2013, after they found extremely poor standards in relation to working at height. They noted numerous openings in the first floor, through which anyone working there could fall several metres. They also found 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 Health and Safety Executive, standards subsequently deteriorated at the site, leading to Mr. Clark's fall.

Gail Purdy from the CPS said: "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 and Safety Executive of the measures that needed to be taken on site."

Ends

Notes to Editors:

  • Gail Purdy is from the Complex Casework Unit in CPS South East, which deals with the most serious cases in Kent, Surrey and Sussex.
  • 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
  • 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. were convicted of failure to discharge a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act.