A jury has found a 64-year-old construction project manager guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence after a woman walking past a London construction site was crushed to death when three window frames weighing more than half a ton fell on her in 2012.
The court heard how the window frames had been left on the pavement overnight, leaning against the building in Mayfair, unsecured.
They fell onto Amanda Telfer, a 43-year-old lawyer, who happened to be walking by on her way to meet friends at 11.30 in the morning on 30 August 2012.
Amanda Telfer was 43 when she was crushed on 30 August 2012 (Metropolitan Police)
Kelvin Adsett, 64, of Slough, Berkshire was convicted at the Old Bailey on Thursday, 23 March, of manslaughter by gross negligence and offences contrary to Section 7a of the Health and Safety at Work Act.
Kelvin Adsett was the on-site project manager for IS Europe Ltd.
Another man, Damian Lakin-Hall, 50, of Cobham, Surrey was convicted of offences contrary to Section 7a of the Health and Safety at Work Act, but was acquitted of manslaughter.
A company – IS Europe Ltd of Slough, Berkshire – was convicted of offences under Section 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act.
The men will be sentenced on 5 May 2017.
The convictions follow an investigation by the Metropolitan Police’s Homicide and Major Crime Command with the assistance of the Health and Safety Executive.
"Laissez-faire attitude to health and safety"
Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Chalmers said: "The individuals and company who were convicted in this tragic case had a laissez-faire attitude to health and safety and did not take their obligations seriously.
"Each had a responsibility for the safety of the construction site but failed to deal with a basic task that very obviously then presented a serious hazard.
"Amanda died four-and-a-half years ago and this has been an incredibly long and complex case to bring before the courts with many many hours of enquiries carried out by my team.
"Her death was completely avoidable and it is satisfying for all involved in this case – and especially Amanda’s family – that the jury have convicted these people and companies today."
At about 11.30am on 30 August 2012, Amanda, a freelance intellectual property and media lawyer, was walking along the pavement past a construction site in Hanover Square, W1 when three large unglazed window frames, together weighing 655kg, fell on her.
She died at the scene from massive crush injuries.
No efforts made to secure them
The window frames, one around 3.2m square and two approximately 3.3m x 1.8m, had been delivered the previous day as scheduled but couldn’t be fitted immediately due to other delays on site.
We don’t want retribution for our loss of Amanda, we want accountability established– Barry and Ann Telfer
They were left on the pavement overnight, leaning against the building. No efforts were made to secure them and no barrier placed around them.
As Amanda walked past, it is believed a door in the building blew open in the wind, hitting the frames and causing them to topple. A worker inside tried to grab them but they fell, crushing Amanda underneath.
Several members of the public came to help and together they managed to lift the frames off Amanda. However, she was unconscious and not breathing. Police, the London Ambulance Service and London’s Air Ambulance attended but she died within minutes.
Lakin-Hall told officers at the scene the frames had been secured to the wall with a ratchet strap, but evidence showed that had never been the case, the Metropolitan Police said in a statement to press after the conviction.
"We want responsibility acknowledged"
Barry and Ann Telfer, Amanda’s parents, said following the verdict:
"Amanda was a bright lovely professional woman living her life to the full and making plans for the future. Her future was taken from her when she was crushed to death by half ton window frames which took two seconds to fall on her. The frames had been left standing, almost vertically, at the side of a public pavement, unsecured to anything, unattended and with no safety barriers around them.
"If construction companies and the people who work for them are not held to account for such high levels of negligence and incompetence then none of us is safe walking the streets next to construction sites. The Health and Safety training being given is totally inadequate, if risk of death to passers-by is ignored."
In an impact statement for the court they added: "We saw our daughter on the morning of the day she died. An hour before she was killed she was with us, telling us about her social plans with friends for that evening and for the weekend, looking forward to some interesting legal work that she was going to be starting that afternoon, planning a weekend in France to see her brother and his family. She was very cheerful, making plans and looking forward.
"We don’t want retribution for our loss of Amanda, though we will never recover from it. We want accountability established, responsibility acknowledged. 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."
- Edited 27 March to correct the time of the incident.
As Wayne Peters, I also express my sincere condolences to the family, friends & colleagues of Amanda. I also entirely agree with Wayne that safety cannot be compromised & those who are found to be negligent should be prosecuted accordingly. However, I think I & many who have been & are in charge on sites would say, ‘there by the grace of God’!
As a professionsl project manager, professional coach and owner of my own company, I would first like to express my condolances to the victims family for the loss of Amanda.I feel this type of conviction is what needs to hapen to everyone who goes about their business with total dis-regard for others. Thank heavens not all Construction PM’s are of this low standard or the streets of London would indeed be a very dangerous place. We have seen loss of life on the London streets in the wake of recent terror attacks, but this could have so easily been avoided, it requires the punishment to be to the full extent of the law.
Deeply sorry for this. The incident is not something a site manager should want to see. Hope CIOB could find out the reasons behind or prior factors and let members to learn other than from pure negligence.
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