falling window frames
31 Jul

Jail sentence after passer-by killed by falling window frames

Jail sentence after passer-by killed by falling window frames

A building company manager has been jailed for a year for the manslaughter of a 43-year-old woman who was crushed to death when unsecured window frames weighing more than half a tonne toppled onto her as she walked past a building site in central London.

Kelvin Adsett, of Slough, Berkshire, was found guilty of the gross negligence manslaughter of Amanda Telfer at the Old Bailey in March. Ms Telfer died when the three large window frames, which had been placed leaning unsecured against the wall of a construction site in Hanover Square in Mayfair, fell on her as she walked past on the pavement around midday on 30 August 2012.

The unglazed window frames – one around 3.2m square and two approximately 3.3m x 1.8m – had been delivered the day before as scheduled but couldn’t be fitted immediately due to other delays on-site. They were left on the pavement overnight, leaning against the building, but no efforts were made to secure them and no barrier was placed around them, the court was told.

As Ms Telfer walked past, it is thought a door in the building blew open in the wind, hitting the frames, which together weighed 655kg. A worker inside the building tried to grab them, but they fell, crushing Ms Telfer. Although members of the public managed to lift the frames off her, the freelance lawyer died at the scene from massive crush injuries.

Adsett, 64, was responsible for the placing of the frames and the failure to secure them, the court heard. He was also found guilty of breaching section 7(a) of the HSWA 1974, by failing to take care of people’s health and safety at work.

His joinery and glazing company, IS Europe Limited, of which he is the sole director, was found guilty of breaching sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the HSWA 1974.

Sentencing, Judge Peter Rook QC said IS Europe would have been fined £100,000 but had only £250 left in its bank account after falling dormant.

Damian Lakin-Hall, a 50-year-old site manager working at the time of the incident for Westgreen Construction Limited, was acquitted of gross negligence manslaughter but found guilty of breaching section 7(a) of the HSWA 1974. He was given a six-month prison sentence suspended for two years. The court heard Lakin-Hall had told police officers at the scene the frames had been secured to the wall with a ratchet strap, though evidence showed this had never been the case.

After the sentencing, Graham Partridge, London Crown Prosecution Service reviewing lawyer, said: “If Kelvin Adsett, Damian Lakin-Hall and IS Europe had complied with their legal responsibilities, Amanda Telfer would not have died.”

“They were delivering and storing large, very heavy window frames and should have known that, unsecured, they presented a serious danger to the public on what was a windy day.”

“The CPS case was that the defendants’ conduct was so bad that those involved bore criminal responsibility for Ms Telfer’s tragic death.”

In an impact statement read to the court, Amanda’s parents, Barry and Ann, said: “Every parent who has lost a child to a violent and sudden death knows the overwhelming shock and disbelief which is impossible to describe.”

“It’s still almost impossible for us to believe that she really has gone or to come to terms with the random carelessness of how she was killed.”

“Her death was avoidable. She was killed by two half-ton window frames which had been left standing at the side of a busy public pavement unsecured, unbalanced and unattended with no safety barriers round them. The risk to passers-by is obvious. Yet the risk was ignored and our daughter, a bright, beautiful woman with so much to live for, so much she wanted to do with her life, was killed.”

Source The British Safety Council