Editor, UBM

October 7, 2016

Get the SHP newsletter

Daily health and safety news, job alerts and resources

Manslaughter trial hears safety was a “total joke”

A jury for a manslaughter by gross negligence trial have been told how the health and safety rules on a builder’s jobs were a “total joke”.

Colin Jeffrey, who owned the firm Utterly Gutterly, is accused of unlawfully killing 17-year-old Mason Beau Jennians, and for not following health and safety laws for people working at height.

The teenager, known to friends and family as Beau, died after falling from a ladder in Abbotskerswell, Devon.

He was found unconscious at the foot of the ladder on 4 December and was taken to by air ambulance to Derriford hospital, where he died on 5 December due to multiple injuries.

Gary Denham, a labourer who painted houses for Mr Jeffrey, said in a police interview that health and safety at Utterly Gutterly was a “total joke”.

Speaking to the jury at Exeter Crown Court, Mr Denham described working with Beau on a job in Torquay when the pair were asked to get on the roof and paint a chimney.

Mr Denham refused, telling the jury: “It was too dangerous.”

However, Beau agreed to tie himself to some rope and do it.

Mr Denham told the court that it was Mr Jeffrey’s idea to “secure the rope to the roof, then to come around to the front of the chimney and paint it that way”.

Mr Denham said the defendant bought some blue nylon rope about an inch thick.

He told the jury that Beau didn’t want to do the job, but agreed to in order to get the job finished.

Over the course of the trial, the jury has heard that Jeffrey used teenage boys who would work at height because they were “brave and naive about safety”.

They have also heard that he refused to pay for scaffolding, and expected his workers to do the job using only ladders.

Under cross-examination, Mr Denham said Jeffery did show young workers how to carry ladders, climb them and position them securely.


Mr Jeffrey denies the charges and says the Beau was self-employed and not his responsibility. He has yet to give evidence in the trial and denies manslaughter.

Mr Denham said he always believed he was working for Jeffrey, although he said he was paid cash-in-hand and had no formal employment rights.

The trial continues.

Comments are disabled for this story as the trial ongoing.

The Safety Conversation Podcast: Listen now!

The Safety Conversation with SHP (previously the Safety and Health Podcast) aims to bring you the latest news, insights and legislation updates in the form of interviews, discussions and panel debates from leading figures within the profession.

Find us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts, subscribe and join the conversation today!

Related Topics

Notify of

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Manslaughter trial puts working at height back into focus » Common Sense Compliance
7 years ago