A company boss has been sentenced to three years in prison for gross negligence manslaughter following the death of a worker at Swan Hunter shipyard in Wallsend, Newcastle.

After a four week trial into the death of Kenneth Joyce, Allan Turnbull was found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence. North Eastern Maritime Offshore Cluster Ltd (NEMOC) and one of its directors were also fined for their safety failings.

The incident occurred on 2 December 2008, when Mr Joyce was dismantling a building at the shipyard. He was working from a cherry picker while two colleagues were working from another and a crane to lower steel beams to the ground. While removing a beam brace connecting two plate girders, one of the girders struck the basket of the cherry picker in which Mr Joyce was standing, causing the equipment to topple over. He fell to the ground and suffered fatal head injuries.

Jurors at Newcastle Crown Court were told that a catalogue of health and safety failings led to the death, including the fact that Mr Turnbull did not carry out a specific risk assessment. There were also failures to identify the risks of the job and to take advice from a competent person.

Prosecutor Richard Matthews QC said, “It was high hazard work that required careful planning and close supervision by someone who knew what they were doing. There was an obvious risk of death arising from these activities.”

In addition to the prison sentence given to Mr Turnbull, Christopher Taylor, a director of NEMOC, was fined £30,000 (plus £50,000 costs) for failing to carry out his duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. NEMOC were also fined for their failings under the Act, and with the company now in liquidation, ordered to pay £1 for each offence.

For more information, see the: