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July 5, 2011

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Storage-equipment firm and directors face manslaughter charges

A company that manufactures storage products will appear in court next month to answer corporate manslaughter and health and safety charges after a worker died from injuries sustained in a fall.

Lion Steel Equipment Ltd, which is based in Hyde, Greater Manchester, has been summonsed to appear before Tameside magistrates on 2 August. As well as being charged with corporate manslaughter, the company is also charged under sections 2 and 33 of the HSWA for failing to ensure the safety at work of its employees.

Three of the firm’s directors – Kevin Palliser, 59, Richard Vaughan Williams, 43, and Graham Coupe, 59 – have each been charged with manslaughter by gross negligence.

Alison Storey, reviewing lawyer in the CPS Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division, confirmed that the three directors have also been charged under section 37 of the HSWA for failing to ensure the safety at work of their employees.

The charges brought by Greater Manchester Police relate to an incident on 29 May 2008, when one of the firm’s employees, 45-year-old Steven Berry, fell through a fragile roof at an industrial unit in Hyde. Mr Berry was taken to Tameside General Hospital, where he later died as a result of his injuries. 

Added Storey: “I have taken this decision after very carefully reviewing the material gathered in the police investigation and have concluded that there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction, and that it is in the public interest to bring these charges.”

Lion Steel has been supplying businesses with storage equipment, including shelving, cupboards and cabinets, for more than 50 years. The company is listed as a medium-sized business with more than 100 employees.

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13 years ago

With three directors in the dock as well, this could be a lengthy case. The incident as described, while deeply tragic, is not unfortunately uncommon, so it’ll be interesting to see how the company’s conduct contributed to this man’s death.

13 years ago

I am not familair with the case but clearly there must have been some serious evidence against the company for non-compliance with h&s regulations.

Being a medium sized enterprise this might be more of a challenging case for the prosecution. The previous and first statute corporate manslaughter case did not present any real problems because it was essentially a one-man band type company.