Corporate Manslaughter Prosecutions

The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 is a landmark in law. For the first time, companies and organisations can be found guilty of corporate manslaughter as a result of serious management failures resulting in a gross breach of a duty of care.

The Act clarifies the criminal liabilities of companies including large organisations where serious failures in the management of health and safety result in a fatality. Although the new offence is not part of health and safety law, it will introduce an important new element in the corporate management of health and safety.

Prosecutions will be of the corporate body and not individuals, but the liability of directors, board members or other individuals under health and safety law or general criminal law, will be unaffected. And the corporate body itself and individuals can still be prosecuted for separate health and safety offences.

The Act also largely removes the Crown immunity that applies to the existing common law corporate manslaughter offence.

What is Corporate Manslaughter?

The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 is a landmark in law. For the first time, companies and organisations can be found guilty of corporate manslaughter as a result of serious management failures resulting in a gross breach of a duty of care.

The Act clarifies the criminal liabilities of companies including large organisations where serious failures in the management of health and safety result in a fatality. Although the new offence is not part of health and safety law, it will introduce an important new element in the corporate management of health and safety.

Prosecutions will be of the corporate body and not individuals, but the liability of directors, board members or other individuals under health and safety law or general criminal law, will be unaffected. And the corporate body itself and individuals can still be prosecuted for separate health and safety offences.

The Act also largely removes the Crown immunity that applies to the existing common law corporate manslaughter offence.

A number of cases have now been heard in the Courts with some, although not all, leading to successful Corporate Manslaughter convictions. Cases include:

 UPDATED July 2016 – Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, found not guilty of corporate manslaughter

On 21 April 2015, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust was charged after a woman, Frances Cappuccini, died giving birth by emergency caesarean in October 2012.

The Trust was accused of corporate manslaughter and Dr Errol Cornish, 67, of Bromley, south-east London, also faced a charge of gross negligence manslaughter. It is the first time an NHS Trust has been charged with corporate manslaughter since the offence was introduced in 2008.

After the trial in January 2016, the Inner London Crown Court delivered a not guilty verdict.

UPDATED May 2016 – Martinisation (London) Ltd charged with corporate manslaughter after the death of two employees

The Director of Martinisation (London) Ltd, Martin Gutaj, has been charged with health and safety offences and the company has been charged with corporate manslaughter and health and safety offences after two men died while working for the company. In November 2014, Tomasz Procko and Karol Symanski fell from a first floor balcony as they tried to hoist a sofa up from the pavement in Cadogan Square, London SW1.

Zoe Martin, Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division, said: “I have today issued a written charge and requisition to Martinisation (London) Ltd in respect of two health and safety offences and offences of corporate manslaughter. I have also issued a written charge and requisition to company director Martin Gutaj in respect of two health and safety offences.

“The next hearing will take place on 6 June at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

“Criminal proceedings against Mr Gutaj and the company will now begin and they have a right to a fair trial. It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.”Click here to read more

UPDATED February 2016 – Sherwood Rise Limited – charged with corporate manslaughter, fined £30,000 and company director jailed for three years and two months

Three former care home bosses have been accused of manslaughter by gross negligence after Ivy Atkin, 86, died in November 2012, just days after she was moved out of the Autumn Grange care home in Nottingham.

The care home company, Sherwood Rise Limited, has admitted a charge of corporate manslaughter. Yousef Kahn was sentenced to three years and two months after pleading guilty to gross negligence manslaughter. He was also disqualified from being a company director for eight years.

Mohammed Khan, who was employed as the Manager at Autumn Grange, was sentenced to one year imprisonment suspended for two years for a breach of sections 3 and 37 under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. He was also disqualified from being a company director for 5 years.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) confirmed it was the first care home company to be charged and sentenced under the Corporate Manslaughter Act.  Click here to read more

UPDATED January 2016 – Linley Developments, convicted of corporate manslaughter and fined £200,000, plus costs of £25,000

Hertfordshire building firm, Linley Developments has been sentenced for the corporate manslaughter of a worker who was crushed when a structurally unsound retaining wall collapsed.

The company’s managing director and project manager were both also given suspended prison sentences after pleading guilty to breaching CDM Regulations. It was heard in court how 28-year-old Gareth Jones died instantly on 30 January 2013 when a wall collapsed on him on Mile House Lane in St Albans.

Two days before the incident, managing director Trevor Hyatt visited the site to find that the foundations for the storeroom would leave the floor at a higher level than in the adjoining building. Project manager Alfred Baker suggested putting in a step but the client said he would prefer them at the same level.

Two workers told Mr Hyatt that, if they were to dig lower, they might need to underpin the footing of the existing wall. He told them to dig to a lower level regardless.

An investigation found that:

  1. Linley Developments, failed to carry out a risk assessment or create a method statement for the excavation;
  2. Linley Developments had not installed supports or buttresses to prevent the wall falling forward as the trench deepened; and
  3. the wall was inherently unsafe because, during construction a year before, the foundations had not been bonded with it.

Trevor Hyatt, 50, of Letty Green, Hertford was given a six month prison sentence, suspended for two years, after pleading guilty to breaching Regulations 28 and 31 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations. He was also fined £25,000 with £7,500 in costs. Judge Bright said he had considered disqualifying him as a director but did not believe it “necessary, proportionate or just to do so”.

Alfred Barker, 59, of Gazeley, Suffolk was given a six month prison sentence, suspended for two years, after pleading guilty to breaching Regulations 28 and 31 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations. He was ordered to pay costs of £5,000. Mr Hyatt and Mr Baker also faced charges of gross negligence manslaughter, but they were not proceeded with after they pleaded guilty to the two CDM breaches.

Linley Developments was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay costs of £25,000 after pleading guilty to corporate manslaughter on 7 September. It was allowed to pay the fine over six years. The judge also made a publicity order against the company, instructing them to take out an advert in the trade press detailing their prosecution.

The publicity order stated:

“Linley Developments Ltd was convicted on 7 September 2015 of corporate manslaughter arising out of the death of Gareth Jones, a subcontracted employee, at a development in St Albans on 30 January 2013. Linley Developments Ltd admitted acting in a gross breach of their duty by failing to take sufficient care for his safety. Failings included failing to prepare a risk assessment for the excavation works, failing to assess and monitor the stability of the wall and failing to ensure that the wall did not become unstable as a result of the excavation work.”

The advert appeared on the Construction Enquirer website throughout December 2015 and could be viewed by up to 60,000 people each day. Director of CQMS, Kerry Parr commented:

“This is the first time a publicity order has resulted in an advert being taken out in the trade press, rather than in local papers or on the company’s own website.The publication of this advert has an untold effect on the reputation of the company and will undoubtedly result in a significant loss of orders.”

UPDATED December 2015 – Sherwood Rise Limited – admitted a charge of corporate manslaughter

Three former care home bosses have been accused of manslaughter by gross negligence after Ivy Atkin, 86, died in November 2012, just days after she was moved out of the Autumn Grange care home in Nottingham.

The care home company, Sherwood Rise Limited, has admitted a charge of corporate manslaughter. Yousef Kahn has pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Ivy Atkin.

Two other people, Mohammed Khan, 38, from Zulla Road, Nottingham and Naseen Kiani, 53, from Whirlow Grange Drive, Sheffield, still face separate charges relating to Mrs Atkin’s death. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) confirmed it was the first care home company to be charged under the Corporate Manslaughter Act.  Sentencing has yet to take place.

 December 2015 – Baldwins Crane Hire Limited convicted of corporate manslaughter and fined £700,000 plus costs

Baldwins Crane Hire Ltd. has been sentenced to a fine of £700,000 at Preston Crown Court after being found guilty of corporate manslaughter and health and safety offences. It was also ordered to pay all CPS costs and half of the Health and Safety Executive’s costs. The conviction followed the death of one of their employees, Lindsay Easton, in 2011.

Mr Easton was employed by the company as a crane operator. At the time of his death he was driving a 16 wheel, 130 tonne crane down an access road to Scout Moor quarry and wind farm Edenfield, Lancashire. The crane had been brought to the site to replace another crane which had broken down. As he drove the crane down the access road it crashed after failing to negotiate a steep bend. Mr Easton was killed in the collision.

Following an investigation, the crash was found to have been caused by serious problems with the braking system of the crane, which had not been properly maintained.The crane was fitted with four separate auxiliary braking systems in addition to the ordinary footbrake. Three of the auxiliary braking systems had been disconnected altogether and the fourth was damaged. There were also serious faults with the main braking system, with no operable brakes at all on seven wheels and faults or excessive wear to the remaining nine. Baldwins Crane Hire Ltd were responsible for these failings.

July 2015 – CAV Aerospace Ltd. convicted of corporate manslaughter and fined £600,000 and £400,000, plus costs of £125,000

CAV Aerospace Ltd. has been found guilty of corporate manslaughter, following the death of employee, Paul Bowers.

The firm was convicted of two offences and fined twice; £600,000 for Corporate Manslaughter and £400,000 for contravening the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. Both fines are to run concurrently. The firm was also ordered to pay £125,000 in prosecution costs.

Mr Bowers died after a stack of metal sheets collapsed on top of him in a warehouse, trapping and crushing him. The metal sheets, which had been delivered to the warehouse at the company’s request and for the company’s purposes, collapsed as a result of the dangerously high levels of stock in the warehouse.

The senior management of CAV Aerospace Ltd. received clear, unequivocal and repeated warnings over a sustained period of years prior to the fatal incident. Some of the most obvious solutions were rejected on cost grounds.

The company was warned ahead of the fatal accident that there were potentially disastrous consequences if nothing significant was done about this. Mr Bowers, one of the most recent additions to the team, became trapped under a stack of raw sheets of metal which fell on top of him as he made his way down a designated safe walkway.

Piers Arnold, of the CPS Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division, said: “This company ignored repeated and clear warnings about the dangers of their stock levels, refusing to take action partly because it was considered too expensive. Paul Bowers and his family have paid the price for the company’s failure to take the action that was so clearly needed. I hope that the company’s conviction today can be a small comfort to his family, and our thoughts are with them at this time.”

JULY 2015 – Huntley Mount Engineering, fined £150,000 for corporate manslaughter and company director jailed for eight months

Huntley Mount Engineering Limited were fined £150,000 for the Corporate Manslaughter of Cameron Minshull, an apprentice who had only recently started working at the company at the time of his death.
Mr Minshull was allowed to work without meaningful supervision on dangerous and defective equipment.

Company director, Zaffar Hussain was also jailed for eitght months for offences under Section 2 and Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. His son, Akbar Hussain received a four-month jail sentence, suspended for a year and fined £3,000.

The agency that placed Mr Minshull at the firm, Lime People Training Solutions, were also fined £75,000 for putting him in a dangerous work environment and ordered to pay £25,000 in costs.

March 2015 – Pyranha Mouldings Limited, sentenced for corporate manslaughter and fined £200,000, plus costs of £90,000

Following a trial at Liverpool Crown Court, the trial Judge passed sentence today whilst sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice. Company director Peter Mackereth was sentenced to nine months in prison suspended for two years and fined £25,000 and Pyranha Mouldings Ltd. were fined £200,000. Pyranha Mouldings Ltd. and Peter Mackereth were also asked to pay costs of £90,000 between them.

Alan Catterall was a supervisor for Pyranha Mouldings Ltd., a company which manufactures plastic kayaks and canoes. On the morning of 23 December 2010 a fault developed on one of the ovens used to create the kayak moulds, which was then out of service whilst maintenance work was carried out.

Once the initial fault was fixed Mr Catterall began working on the machine, however the oven was turned back on with Mr Catterall inside. Mr Catterall had no means of escape and no alarm, due to the unique design of the oven which had been developed by Pyranha Mouldings Ltd. Mark Auty, senior specialist prosecutor with the CPS said, “Mr Catterall’s death was caused by the serious failings of his employer, Pyranha Mouldings Ltd. This wasn’t just a tragic situation; it was a tragedy waiting to happen. Mr Catterall’s death is all the more upsetting because it was avoidable.

“By choosing to take on the design and installation of the machine, Pyranha Mouldings assumed responsibility for its safety. However, the machine clearly endangered the safety of those working with it, including Mr Catterall.

“By their verdict, the jury have decided that Pyranha Mouldings Ltd is responsible for the death of Alan Catterall. This is a sad and distressing case, and our thoughts are with the family of Alan Catterall.”

Mobile Sweepers (Reading) Ltd, fined £8,000 plus costs of £191,000
March 2014

Mobile Sweepers (Reading) Ltd was charged with the offence, along with its sole director, Mervyn Owens, who faces a charge of gross-negligence manslaughter, in relation to the death of employee, Malcolm Hinton in March 2012.

Mr Hinton was working underneath a road-sweeping truck at Mobile Sweepers’ premises, near Basingstoke when he died from crush injuries. He had inadvertently removed a hydraulic hose, which caused the back of the truck to fall on him.

Mobile Sweepers (Reading) Ltd (MSRL) was fined just £8,000 for the offence, the lowest fine under the corporate manslaughter legislation to date, however its director Mervyn Owens was ordered to pay £191,000 and banned from holding the position of a director for 5 years.

MSRL is the sixth company to be prosecuted under the Corporate Manslaughter Act since it entered the statute books in 2007.

Princes Sporting Club Ltd, fined entire company assets
November 2013

A Middlesex watersports club has been charged with corporate manslaughter in relation an incident in which a young girl was hit and killed by a speedboat in 2010.

Prince’s Sporting Club Ltd appeared before Westminster magistrates yesterday, where it was also charged with a breach of section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974. One of its directors, Glen Walker, was charged with a breach of section 37 of the same Act.

The charges relate to the death of 11-year-old Mari-Simon Cronje during a birthday celebration at the Bedfont, Middlesex club on 11 September 2010. She died after falling from a banana boat ride and being hit by the boat that had been towing it. The driver of the boat was not aware that Mari-Simon had fallen into the water and did not see her as he continued on a tight circular route.

Princes Sporting Club Limited became the fifth UK company to be successfully prosecuted for Corporate Manslaughter. Following a guilty plea a fine of £134,579.69, equal to the entire assets of the company, was imposed at Southwark Crown Court.

MNS Mining Ltd,
January 2013

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is prosecuting both the manager and the company who operated the Gleision Colliery, the scene of a tragic accident in which four miners lost their lives.

The incident occurred in September 2011. Charles Breslin, Philip Hill, Garry Jenkins and David Powell were all killed when the mine in which they were working was flooded by 500,000 gallons of water.

The incident was investigated by South Wales Police, who were supported by the Health and Safety Executive. The investigation aimed to identify the underlying causes of the failures. On completion, the investigation teams referred the incident to the CPS. The CPS recently concluded that prosecution is in the public interest and there is a realistic prospect of conviction.

It was alleged that the mine manager, Malcolm Fyfield, caused the deaths of the four miners by mining into old, previously flooded mine workings, contrary to safety regulations. As such he has been charged with four counts of gross negligence manslaughter. This is the first occasion on which a non-director’s actions have been the basis for a corporate manslaughter charge, and may lead to judicial consideration of what amounts to “senior management” under the Act.

On 19 June 2014 MNS Mining was found not guilty of corporate manslaughter under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007, following a three month trial at Swansea Crown Court. The mine manager, Malcolm Fyfield, employed by MNS was found not guilty of gross negligence manslaughter. The company was on trial for four offences of corporate manslaughter and the mine manager with four offences of manslaughter.

PS & JE Ward Ltd, 
November 2012

PS & JE Ward, who run a flower nursery Belmont in Norfolk, have been charged with corporate manslaughter in relation to the death of an employee in 2010.

The accident occurred at their Belmont Nursery in King’s Lynn.  Grezegorz Pieton died on 15th July 2010 when a metal hydraulic-trailer lifter he was towing touched an overhead power line, electrocuting him as a result. PS & JE Ward is a small company with fewer than 50 employees.

In April 2014 PS & JE Ward Ltd were found not guilty of corporate manslaughter however face a fine and costs of almost £100,000 for failing to ensure the safety of the worker.

Despite being cleared of corporate manslaughter, Judge Stephen Holt said that the court case had established the responsibility of the company for its employees under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act and, whilst the deceased may have acted on his own initiative by driving into the area with the overhead cables, this did not diminish the company’s responsibility.

Lion Steel Limited convicted of corporate manslaughter, fined £480k
20th July 2012
Lion Steel maintenance worker Steven Berry died from his injuries after an accident on 28 May 2008 when he fell through a fibreglass roof light 13 metres to the factory floor at Hyde in Cheshire, while carrying out a roof repair.

Lion Steel Equipment Limited became only the third company in the UK to be convicted of corporate manslaughter under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act, since it came into force in 2008, and was fined £480,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £84,000.

JMW Farms convicted of corporate manslaughter, fined £187,500 plus £13,000 costs
May 2012

Northern Ireland company JMW Farms Limited became the second company to be convicted of Corporate Manslaughter in Great Britain and the Safety Health and Practitioner report they have received the largest ever health and safety fine in Northern Ireland.

On 15th November 2010, a JMW Farms employee, Robert Wilson, was tragically killed when he was struck by a metal bin which fell from the raised forks of a forklift truck and suffered fatal rush injuries. The joint investigation by the Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland and the Police Service of Northern Ireland found that it was not possible to insert the lifting forks into the sleeves of the bin, as the forks were too large and incorrectly spaced causing the bin to fall.

JMW Farms pleaded guilty to the offence under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 (“the Act”) and was fined £187,500 and ordered to pay £13,000 in costs. The total sum must be paid within six months.

Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings, is the first prosecution under the Act and is charged with the unlawful killing of a young geologist by gross negligence.
26 February 2010

Mr. Peter Eaton, Director of Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings, is was the first prosecution under the Act and is charged with the unlawful killing of a young geologist by gross negligence. Mr Peter Eaton, first appeared at Stroud magistrates court in June 2009 to face manslaughter charges both on behalf of the company and as an individual.

Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings Ltd on 17 February 2011 were found guilty and fined £385,000 following a two week trial.  The judge, in handing down the sentence, confirmed Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings Ltd could pay the fine over 10-year period, paying a £38,500 every year of that period. The company does not have to pay any costs.

In consideration of the fine of £385,000; in 2008 Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings employed eight people and had a turnover of £333,000.

Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings appealed against the Judge’s decision however this was turned down in May 2011 with the Judge in the Court of Appeal upholding the original fine.

Further Information:
HSG 150 – health and safety in construction (page 71)
(CDM ACOP) L144 – managing health and safety in construction
HSE Guidance: Structural stability during excavations