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June 14, 2017

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Gross manslaughter negligence conviction for construction company

A construction company director and site manager has been convicted of gross negligence manslaughter after a grounds worker was crushed to death in a collapsing trench.

A nine-week trial at Northampton Crown Court found Andrew Winterton, 52, of Collyweston guilty following a joint investigation by Northamptonshire Police and the HSE into the death of Shane Wilkinson.

Father-of-five Wilkinson, 33, was employed as a grounds worker at the Conquest Homes building site in Collyweston when he died on 4 September 2014.

The court heard he had been standing next to a deep trench that had been incorrectly excavated by the trench digger-driver, Dean Wortley, when an unsecured trench wall collapsed and he was completely buried underneath the rubble.

A jury heard how, despite the best efforts of fellow workers at the site, Wilkinson was pronounced dead at the scene after his body was recovered.

Winterton, as site manager and director of Conquest Homes, was found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter .

Wortley, 48, of Market Deeping in Lincolnshire and who traded as Clearview Demolition, was found guilty under the Health and Safety at Work 1974 Act and CDM Regulations.

Basic safety measures

The court heard evidence which showed that the sides of the trench had not been properly or adequately secured and that Wortley and Winterton had ignored basic safety measures resulting in convictions against both men for significant and serious breaches of health and safety legislation.

Speaking after the verdict, the senior investigating officer, Detective Superintendent Steve Woliter of Northamptonshire Police, said: “This was a tragic loss of a young life that could so easily have been avoided.

“Winterton and Wortley were both experienced in ground works and failed to show even the most basic safety measures to prevent harm to workers – such as Shane Wilkinson – on the Conquest Homes site.”

Following the verdict Wilkinson’s parents said: “[This] verdict had given us some closure.”

“We hope health and safety lessons have been learnt, so that this never happens to another family.”

“We would like to thank everyone that tried to save Shane’s life that day, and also everyone involved in the investigation and prosecution.”

Both defendants will be sentenced on 30 June.

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