Directors Found Guilty Of Health And Safety Offences And Perverting The Course Of Justice

Health and safety offences

13.08.2008

A director of a scrap metals firm has been cleared of the manslaughter of an employee who died in an explosion at the scrapyard site.

David Matthews, 56, was found not guilty of manslaughter by a jury at Winchester Crown Court, but was found guilty of two counts of perverting the course of justice and two health and safety offences.

Another director, 48-year-old Michael Anderson, was also found guilty of one charge of perverting the course of justice. Both men will be sentenced in September.

Thomas Mooney, 64, died during the explosion at Reliance Scrap Metal Merchants in Poole, Dorset, which occurred as gas cylinders were being cut up on May 9 2005.

Detective Inspector Jez Noyce, of Dorset Police, said: "It's my hope that the guilty verdicts on the health and safety counts will act as a warning to all employers to make absolutely sure that they have processes in place to ensure the safety of their staff.

"The courts, the Crown Prosecution Service and Dorset Police take offences of perverting the course of justice extremely seriously. In this case, the two defendants used their position in the company to pressurise and manipulate their staff into giving false and erroneous evidence."

David Urpeth from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: "This was a tragic fatal industrial accident. The company ought to have systems in place to ensure workers were not exposed to harm.

"I am very concerned that in this case, after seeing one of their employees killed, the directors sought to pressurise and manipulate their staff into giving false and erroneous evidence. Such conduct is shameful.

I represent many workers who have been injured or killed in work accidents, in bringing claims for compensation."