July 11, 2017

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Golf company director jailed after lake death

A golf company director has been jailed after a ball collector drowned in a lake on a Welsh course.

Father-of-one Gareth Pugh, 29, died on 11 February 2016 while collecting golf balls at Peterstone Lake Golf Course near Newport.

Dale Pike, of Boss Golf Balls, pleaded guilty to manslaughter by gross negligence at Cardiff Crown Court in May and was sentenced to 32 months in prison earlier yesterday [10 July].


The court heard how Pike had agreed to pay Gareth to retrieve balls from the lake but the measures in place to ensure his safety were inadequate.

Iwan Jenkins, from the CPS, said: “Dale Pike stood by and watched as Gareth entered the water knowing that safety regulations were being breached and which resulted in Gareth losing his life.

“There was clear evidence Pike had made enquiries with legitimate dive operators to cost this activity but he chose not to use them, instead falsely claiming to the golf club that he was a qualified commercial diver with his own equipment.

“Our thoughts are with Gareth’s family and friends and we thank them for their support throughout the legal process.”

Lost equipment

Mr Pugh’s body was found in the water at Peterstone Lakes Golf Club, near Newport, after he lost his breathing equipment and drowned.

Cardiff Crown Court heard Pike raised the alarm when he noticed a constant stream of bubbles rising to the lake’s surface and a flotation device carrying Mr Pugh’s air supply floating towards the edge.

The BBC reported emergency service staff pulled him from the water 70 minutes after he first entered and he was found with his feet pointing upwards, weighed down by a weighted belt and a 16kg (35lbs) bag of 341 golf balls he had retrieved.

The court heard Pike, who ran Boss Golf Balls which sells balls retrieved from lakes, should have hired trained divers to carry out the work, at a cost of about £1,000 a day. But instead he employed Mr Pugh, who had ADHD and learning difficulties, and paid him £20-40 a day.

David Elias QC, defending, said Pike “naively and foolishly believed that all would be well with the use of that equipment in that lake”.

Quick buck

Sentencing Pike, Judge Keith Thomas said: “Mr Pugh was an unsuitable contender for the diving work you employed him to undertake, but you allowed him to take those risks to make a quick buck.

The risk of death or serious injury was obvious to you, but your cavalier attitude towards safety was the cause of Mr Pugh’s death.

“With hindsight you bitterly regret what happened.”

Approaches to managing the risks associated Musculoskeletal disorders

In this episode of the Safety & Health Podcast, we hear from Matt Birtles, Principal Ergonomics Consultant at HSE’s Science and Research Centre, about the different approaches to managing the risks associated with Musculoskeletal disorders.

Matt, an ergonomics and human factors expert, shares his thoughts on why MSDs are important, the various prevalent rates across the UK, what you can do within your own organisation and the Risk Management process surrounding MSD’s.

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