Firm fined £200,000 for corporate manslaughter

A Cumbrian building company and its owner have been sentenced at Preston Crown Court, following an incident in 2011 when a man died as a result of falling through a roof.

Peter Mawson Ltd, a building and joining firm, pleaded guilty in December to corporate manslaughter and a breach of the Health & Safety at Work Act by failing to ensure the safety of employees. The company was fined £200,000 for the corporate manslaughter offence, and £20,000 for the Health & Safety breach.

Peter Mawson, owner of the company, also pleaded guilty to a breach of the same act and was sentenced on Tuesday 3 February to: eight months in prison, suspended for two years; 200 hours unpaid work; a publicity order to advertise what happened on the company website for a set period of time, and to take out a half page spread in the local newspaper; and pay costs of £31,504.77.

At around 3:15pm on Tuesday 25 October 2011 emergency services attended West Cumberland Farmers, Lindal, Ulverston, following a report that a man had fallen through a roof. The man, 42-year-old Jason Pennington, had been working on the roof and had fallen through the skylight from a height of approximately 7.6 meters onto a concrete floor. He was taken to Furness General Hospital where he died a short time later.

DS Paul Yates for Cumbria Constabulary said: "This has been a long and complex investigation, and we have worked closely with the Health & Safety Executive to establish what happened on that tragic day. I hope that this case serves as a warning to other businesses in Cumbria that health and safety measures are extremely important, and if not implemented correctly can result in devastating consequences.

"Our thoughts remain with the family of Mr Pennington at this difficult time. Hopefully the sentencing today will provide some sort of closure, and they can be left to grieve in peace."

Chris Hatton, the investigating inspector at HSE, added: "Jason tragically lost his life because the company that employed him did nothing to make sure he was safe while he worked on a fragile roof.

"Peter Mawson knew the clear panels on the roof weren't safe to walk on but neither he nor his company provided any equipment to prevent workers falling to their death. If scaffolding or netting had been fitted under the fragile panels, or covers had been fitted over them, then Jason would still be here today."

There was no comment from Peter Mawson Ltd at the time of publication.

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