Cleveland Bridge death role 'deserves acknowledgment' - BBC News

2022-06-25 08:33:49 By : Ms. Julie zhu

An engineering company's responsibility for the death of an electrician deserves to be "publicly acknowledged" even though its collapse means a £1.5m fine will not be paid, prosecutors say.

Cleveland Bridge was given the fine after being convicted over the death of Keith Poppleton, 54, in 2016.

But the Darlington-based firm was wound down in 2021 with administrators saying the fine is unlikely to be paid.

Prosecutor Craig Hassall QC said it was still right the case went to court.

Mr Poppleton fell from a 25ft (7.6m)-high crane when an access panel in a walkway gave way at Cleveland Bridge on 25 October 2016.

Teesside Crown Court heard the hatch was supposed to have four clips securing it but there was only one in place when he plunged through it.

Ms Hassall, who represented the Health and Safety Executive in the case, said: "Despite the unlikelihood of any fine ever being paid, there remained a strong public interest in the seriousness of the offending being identified and publicly acknowledged."

He said failing to bring the case to court would have meant "no public acknowledgement of the extent of the health and safety failings that led to Keith Poppleton's death and deprived his family of their husband, father and grandfather".

"Whether or not the £1.5m fine is ever paid, its imposition is a clear signal of the court's disapproval of Cleveland Bridge's failure to ensure the safety of its employees and others," Mr Hassall added.

Administrators for Cleveland Bridge said the fine and some £29,000 in court costs were classed as "unsecured creditors" of the engineering firm.

"Unfortunately given the company's financial state, there is unlikely to be any return to unsecured creditors," joint administrator Martyn Pullin said.

After the sentencing, Mr Poppleton's wife Catherine said there was no justice for her husband as the firm had closed and its directors had "walked away with no accountability".

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