Barrister leads prosecution as company fined for tragic health and safety breach

Thu, 04 Jul 2019

Barrister Bernard Thorogood led the prosecution as a company was fined £1.33 million after a woman was killed by debris blown off a building roof by Storm Doris in 2017.

Tahnie Martin, 29, from Stafford, was hit by a wooden panel outside the Mander Shopping Centre in Wolverhampton. Ms Martin, who worked at the University of Wolverhampton and had just become engaged, suffered serious head injuries and died at the scene. It was a most tragic case.

Cushman Wakefield Debenham Tie Leung Ltd previously pleaded guilty to an offence contrary to the Health and Safety at Work Act after the city council pursued legal action.

The company, which was fined at Wolverhampton Crown Court, was the managing agent responsible for centre maintenance at the time of Ms Martin's death in February 2017.

The panel was blown from the lid of a redundant water tank as a result of winds of about 58 mph. An inquest previously concluded that fixtures on the plant room roof, from which the panel was ripped away, were poorly maintained with rotten fixings.

Mr Thorogood told the court that a full inspection of the surrounding roof space carried out after Miss Martin’s death found “over 50 recommendations for urgent action, with health and safety implications”.

He said it was the Crown’s case that the firm had overseen serious failings, though the company said at the time it believed it had robust maintenance procedures in place.

Mrs Justice Carr said a significant number of members of the public had been put at significant risk of death or grave injury.

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