Steven Weedon, 33, an unemployed ex-serviceman, rented his home from Anthony Minehan, along with two other unemployed ex-servicemen. They had been put in touch with Mr Minehan via a charity called “Soldiers off the Streets” offering help to homeless, ex-service personnel.
The men were to carry out some painting and other small jobs on the outside of Mr Minehan’s home, a large three storey Victorian house, which had recently undergone the installation of a cavity wall. The scaffolding was still in place and the men were to be paid £30 in cash per day.
On 26 March 2014 Mr Weedon fell from the scaffolding. The exact cause of the fall could not be determined, although the Court heard a neighbour had seen him fall from the scaffolding. His workmates had wanted to call the emergency services but Mr Minehan had refused. Despite Mr Weedon being clearly injured, Mr Minehan and the other two men took Mr Weedon home and put him to bed. The next morning one of the co-workers found Mr Weedon on the floor dead. He had suffered a fatal head injury with fractures to his skull, face and ribs. A post mortem later revealed that the cause of death to be a blunt force injury to the left side of his head consistent with a fall from height.
Following Mr Weedon’s death, Mr Minehan threatened one of the other two men not to tell the police that Mr Weedon had been working for him on the scaffolding or they could lose their accommodation and income. There were also attempts to clear the scene of any evidence by disposing of Mr Weedon’s hat and gloves and cleaning up the blood. However, the clothes were found in an outside fridge after the Police took a sniffer dog to the scene to investigate Mr Weedon’s death.
An investigation revealed that the scaffolding had not been erected properly and was not fit for purpose. Although the scaffolding had been erected by a different company, Abacus Scaffolding North West (Abacus), Mr Minehan had assumed control at the time of the incident.
Mr Weedon suffered with epilepsy and post-traumatic stress disorder (due to his time serving in Iraq) so should not have been working at height or standing on the scaffolding in the first place.
Mr Minehan eventually pleaded guilty to gross negligence manslaughter, attempting to pervert the course of justice and breaching s2(1) HSWA 1974. He was sentenced to three years and four months in prison and ordered to pay costs of £7,000.
Abacus and its director Mr Rickie Lake were sentenced for various health and safety breaches. Abacus was fined £70,000 for a breach of s 3(1) HSWA and ordered to pay costs of £3,000. Mr Lake admitted a breach of s37(1) HSWA 1974 due to his company’s offence being committed with his consent, connivance or neglect. He was ordered to do 120 hours of unpaid community work, pay costs of £2,000 and was disqualified from holding a company directorship for two years. For both Abacus and Mr Lake, in applying the relevant sentencing guidelines, the Judge determined the category of culpability was high with a harm category level of 2 (medium likelihood of harm, seriousness of harm risked: level A).