Firm is found guilty over workman’s crush death

David Evans

David Evans

First published in News The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by , Senior reporter. Call me on (01865) 425373

THE family of a man crushed to death by a block of limestone said they hoped lessons will be learned after his employer was convicted of corporate manslaughter.

David Evans was working as a stonemason’s mate on a building site in Moulsford, near Wallingford, when he suffered “catastrophic injuries” as the two-tonne stone fell.

It was to form part of a wall at the Well Barn Estate, which is owned by former Pizza Express director Hugh Osmond and was undergoing a £2m renovation.

The 23-year-old’s employer, Bristol and Bath-based Cavendish Masonry, insisted during a two-week trial at Oxford Crown Court it was not to blame for the accident.

But Oliver Glasgow, prosecuting, said because of its “almost non-existent planning”, the company had committed a gross breach of the duty of care it owed its employee. And yesterday a jury found the company unanimously guilty of corporate manslaughter.

In a statement released after the verdict, relatives of Mr Evans said they hoped no other families would have to go through the “devastation” caused by his loss.

It said: “Since that day, over four years ago, there has been a void in our lives. We miss his smile, his infectious laugh and his profoundly honest nature.

“Not a single day passes without us thinking of him and wondering what his life and our lives would have been like were he here today.

“While we know that this trial will not bring David back to us, we now know how and why he was taken from us.”

The statement added: “We hope that it is understood that the health and safety legislation is there to provide a safe working environment for all employees.

“Most of all, we hope that these lessons are learned and communicated throughout the stonemason and construction industry.

“We do not want another family to go through the devastation and uncertainty we have experienced over the last four years and the pain of loss which will always be with us.”

Following the verdict, Health and Safety Executive inspector Peter Snelgrove said: “David Evans’ tragic death was completely avoidable had Cavendish Masonry properly planned and managed the installation of the heavy limestone.

“The stone toppled because its shape was such that it was potentially unstable when free standing, yet nothing was used to fix it in place.

“The overall execution of the project fell significantly below the standard required and expected of a competent masonry company.”

Cavendish Masonry now faces a large financial penalty which will be decided at a sentencing hearing on July 3.

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