A company has been found guilty of corporate manslaughter, following the death of a stonemason's mate.

On 9 February 2010, David Evans, an employee of Cavendish Masonry Limited, was building a large wall at the Well Barn Estate in Moulsford, Wallingford. A two-tonne limestone block fell off a concrete lintel and crushed him.

Cavendish Masonry were this week found guilty by jury at Oxford Crown Court of corporate manslaughter, having pleaded guilty to an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. They were found to have committed a gross breach of their duty of care in their management and organisation of work at the Well Barn Estate, by failing to take reasonable care in the planning and execution of those activities.

The company admitted to failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare at work of their employees.

Following the verdict, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector Peter Snelgrove said, “David Evan's tragic death was completely avoidable had Cavendish Masonry properly planned and managed the installation of the heavy limestone.

“The lift itself was relatively straightforward and there is no blame on the part of the crane operator who put the stone in place. The stone toppled because its shape was such that it was potentially unstable when free standing, yet nothing was used to fix it in place. It needed to be sufficiently restrained before the lifting slings attaching it to the crane were removed.

“The drawings for the work were wholly insufficient, and the overall execution of the project fell significantly below the standard required and expected of a competent masonry company.”

Cavendish Masonry Limited are due to be sentenced on Thursday 3 July.

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