In October 2005 Matthew Green, who was four years old, sustained fatal injuries when a stone mantelpiece weighing 50 kg fell on him at his home in Towcester. The Inquest, which took place the following year, heard that there was insufficient mortar fixing the mantelpiece to the fireplace and that there were no extra screws or metal dowels to secure it to the wall, contrary to what had been recommended by experts.
The HSE subsequently prosecuted both the company which fixed the mantelpiece, KD Childs, and Persimmon Homes which had built the property and sold it to the Green family in 2003. Both were charged under s3(1) HSWA. Whilst KD Childs pleaded guilty to the charge against them, the case against Persimmon Homes proceeded. It was then during the course of disclosure that the HSE stated that some of the unused material highlighted that: “There were inconsistencies in the way the HSE had treated Persimmon Homes compared to other companies who had fireplaces installed by KD Childs. The decision was therefore taken to withdraw the charges.” The Prosecution against Persimmon Homes was therefore dropped.
Sentencing took place in June when the court heard that whilst Kristian Childs (who traded as KD Childs) was aware of the need to ensure that the fireplaces were properly secured, two other fireplaces that he had fitted were also found to be insecure. The court also heard of the great remorse felt by Mr Childs who had subsequently seen his business virtually extinguished after the incident. KD Childs was fined £7.5k and £2k in costs.