Electrocution leads to convictions

Posted: 13th March 2017

ConstructionSlapdash health and safety procedures on construction sites can lead to grave injury and even death. In one case, a workman’s electrocution when his ladder touched an overhead power cable resulted in gross negligence manslaughter convictions and substantial prison sentences for a landowner and a civil engineer.

The man, in his 30s, was working when he was electrocuted and suffered a fatal cardiac arrest. The owner of the site and the engineer who had advised him on the project were prosecuted on the basis that they had ignored an energy provider’s warnings concerning the proximity of the cable. After being found guilty, they were each sentenced to four years.

In challenging their convictions before the Court of Appeal, their lawyers pointed out that the landowner had been stricken by post traumatic stress disorder and other mental health problems since the incident and had been unable to complete his evidence at trial. It was submitted that the trial of both men should have been stopped once it became clear that he was unfit to testify.

In dismissing their appeals, however, the Court found that the trial judge’s summing up of the case to the jury was balanced and fair and that his decision to allow the trial to continue had caused no prejudice to either man. Their sentences were also neither manifestly excessive nor wrong in principle.