Timber firm is fined £75k for corporate manslaughter

Anne Lennon (left)  wife of the late Peter Lennon, leaves Antrim Crown Court with her daughter Karen.
Anne Lennon (left) wife of the late Peter Lennon, leaves Antrim Crown Court with her daughter Karen.
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A firm fined £75,000 for the death of an employee was warned about risks to staff months before the tragedy, a court has been told.

A Diamond and Sons admitted corporate manslaughter and has been ordered to pay £75,000 after grandfather Peter Lennon was killed in “an accident waiting to happen” at their plant in Coleraine in September 2012.

The late Peter Lennon. PICTURE MARK JAMIESON.

The late Peter Lennon. PICTURE MARK JAMIESON.

Antrim Crown Court was told on Wednesday that Mr Lennon (54) was carrying out maintenance work to machinery when he was crushed and killed “instantaneously”.

During the hearing, one of the directors of the firm, Colm Diamond, broke down as Judge Desmond Marrinan spoke about the tragedy - which came just months after the firm was warned about risks to employees.

An inspector was so concerned that employees could access an area where heavy machinery was operating that he told the company to address the issue immediately, the court was told.

While the company took steps to restrict access to the area, it failed to establish that an additional safety mechanism was not working.

The safety mechanism slowed the movement of the machinery for maintenance work to be carried out.

It emerged during the hearing that a wire had been installed to override the safety mechanism.

However, it has never been established who fitted the wire - both the French company that installed the equipment and A Diamond and Sons have denied responsibility.

The court was also told the firm directors were completely unaware of the existence of the safety mechanism until after Mr Lennon was killed.

A prosecution lawyer said the accident was “preventable” and the fact that the safety mechanism was not working presented a “clear and present danger” to anyone in the area when the machinery was mov

The firm, which employs more than 50 people, is in £1.4m debt. It also faces bills of up to £600,000 in coming years to remain competitive.