HCR Law Events

1 December 2017

Property developers jailed after death of carpenter

Following on from an article in July, a property developer, who appeared on the Channel 4 show The Secret Millionaire, has been given a custodial sentence after a carpenter fell through the ceiling of a development.

Millionaire property developer Michael Holland was given a nine month prison sentence, together with his site foreman Grant Oakes, after a jury found them both responsible for the death of carpenter Dave Clark.

Both men were found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence and health and safety offences. Holland’s company Cherrywood Investments, now known as Threadneedle Estates, was fined £120,000 for breaches of health and safety legislation. In addition Holland has to pay £35,000 in court costs, while Oakes must contribute £10,000.

The case highlights the consequences for property developers of failing to ensure the health and safety of their employees. In sentencing, Judge Laing said “Had I seen evidence you both accepted and understood your responsibilities for what happened, I may have been able to suspend the sentences.”

David Clark, 55, fell 4.5 metres when the plank he was standing on snapped while at a property in Brighton in September 2014. He was carrying a load of between 20 and 30kg at the time. He died in hospital a month later.

Michael Holland, the owner and sole director of Cherrywood Investments Ltd, and Grant Oakes were both found guilty following a three-week trial at Lewes Crown Court.

The court heard that work on the site had previously been stopped following an inspection by the Health and Safety Executive in September 2013, after they found extremely poor standards in relation to working at height. They noted numerous openings in the first floor, through which anyone working there could fall several metres. They also found inadequate health and safety training had been undertaken.

The evidence gathered suggested that both men visited the site regularly and would have seen the conditions, which included work being carried out with voids that someone could fall through, but they did nothing to prevent this happening.

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About the Author
Heath Thomas, Partner, Head of Insurance, Risk and Regulatory and Thames Valley Office

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