Love & Joy Ministries was prosecuted after works to install insulation in the roof void of the Liverpool Lighthouse church and arts venue led to the death of a churchgoer who had
volunteered to assist. The charity had received a grant of £1,988 for the work but instead paid builder and churchgoer Keith Tyson £588 on a labour-only basis, despite not checking whether he was competent to complete this work and notwithstanding that two other builders (one
of which had quoted £1,980 for the task in question) had highlighted the risks associated with working in the roof space.
Mr Tyson was assisted by fellow churchgoer, Lee Bourn, who was provided with a harness by the charity. However, Mr Tyson, who had not worked with harnesses previously, extended the length using a lightweight nylon rope bought from B & Q. Not only was the rope not strong enough to support the weight of a person, but without a suitable anchor point, Mr Bourn
had no protection from falling. On 12 February 2010, Mr Bourn fell 7.6m through the fragile suspended ceiling and was killed.
The subsequent investigation by Liverpool City Council found the charity’s risk assessment to be very poor and, in particular, no review had been conducted despite a bale of insulation having fallen through the ceiling the week before Mr Bourn’s death. Three prohibition notices were issued during the investigation to prevent access to the ceiling and roof space, and to prevent the use of defective ladders.
Following a trial at Liverpool Crown Court, Love & Joy Ministries was found guilty of breaching s.3(1) HSWA. Mr Tyson admitted an offence under s.3(2) HSWA (the same offence as s.3(1) although on the basis that Mr Tyson was self-employed).
The charity’s breach was found to be a significant cause of death and was therefore sentenced in accordance with the Sentencing Council’s 2010 Guidelines. A fine of £65,000 was imposed together with costs of £135,000. The sentencing Judge commented that had the charity been a commercial organisation with means to pay a significant penalty, he would have had no hesitation in imposing a fine of £250,000. Aggravating factors included the fact it was clear the
charity had wanted the work completed “on the cheap”. The judge also added that the charity’s director, Pastor Tani Omideyi, had deliberately lied during the course of the trial. However, the Judge also took into account the charity’s good work in the community when considering its financial circumstances.
Mr Tyson was imprisoned for 33 weeks, suspended for one year, ordered to complete 125 hours of unpaid work and to pay £1,500 towards the prosecution costs.