Spanish firm found guilty following 'Russian Roulette' death tragedy

A Spanish construction company was found guilty of two health and safety charges following the death of a worker near Whitchurch.

It happened in July 2015 at Fenns Bank near Whitchurch during demolition work at an aluminium recycling plant. Jose Canal, 32, was killed when a hopper collapsed.

The company Porvi Construcciones y Contratas, - from northern Spain, pleaded not guilty The jury retired for only an hour before returning its verdict at Caernarfon crown court.

Judge Huw Rees adjourned sentence to give the company time to give details of its turnover and finances, so that an appropriate fine can be imposed. It did not attend the four-day trial nor was it represented by lawyers.

“It’s a serious case where one of their employees has been killed,” remarked the judge.

The company denied charges of failing to ensure that employees and non-employees were exposed to risk. Mr Canal had been involved in demolishing a hopper in a crushing shed and was on a platform cutting through a steel beam.

The hopper, not supported, collapsed in a heap of dust which remained for 25 minutes.

Nigel Lawrence QC, prosecuting, described lack of safety measures as astonishing and appalling.

He said: “They just about broke every rule in the book when they came to dismantle this hopper. They failed to apply any of the guidelines.

“In many ways it’s an astonishing case, little more than a game of Russian Roulette. Someone was going to be hurt or killed – the only question was who and when.

“Virtually everything that should be done was not done. Workers were allowed to work at height on the hopper while people stood on the part that was to be cut.”

He added: “The system of work was grossly unsafe. We have a situation where the defendant did absolutely nothing to protect the workers.”

Judge Rees told the jury after the verdict: “Fines in cases of this kind are very substantial.”

See full story in the Whitchurch Herald

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