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Death of employee was down to director's inexperience and ignorance of the law

By Chris Saunderson

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A DEMOLITION company director whose "inexperience in the industry and ignorance of the law" caused the death of a friend and colleague escaped a maximum two year jail sentence today.

One of Joseph Young's workmen was crushed to death in Buckie almost seven years ago when rubble stacked up against an interior wall in a disused abattoir collapsed on top of him.

The former pork factory site in Buckie.
The former pork factory site in Buckie.

Divorced father of two Stuart Thompson who lived near his 36-year-old boss in Bacup, Lancashire died after being crushed under the tons of debris.

First offender Young was ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and be under a year's social work supervision by Sheriff Sara Matheson at Inverness Sheriff Court as an alternative to prison.

His defence counsel, Susan Duff told the court: "Mr Young feels deep remorse at the death of Stuart Thompson, who was a friend.

"He has lived with the knowledge of his role in Mr Thompson’s death for six years and continues to do so on a daily basis.

"Mr. Young’s lack of education was the root cause of the offence that led to Mr. Thompson’s tragic death. He became aware that the premises were to be demolished and offered to demolish the premises for nothing in exchange for being able to dispose of the demolition materials.

"The former owner of the premises agreed to this proposal."

The advocate added: "Mr Young had limited experience in construction. He had never worked on a demolition site before and had no experience in demolition."

Ms Duff said that the whole approach to the job was described by another colleague as “amateur.”

"It was." she said. "Mr Young did not have the education, training or experience to run the site safely.

"In short, Mr Young’s ignorance resulted in the death of Mr Thompson. That is something he has to live with and something that he finds very difficult."

Young did not comment after sentencing. But the court was told he intended to travel to Buckie for the first time since the tragedy to lay flowers in memory of Mr Thompson.

At a previous hearing, fiscal depute Stella Swann apologised to Mr Thompson's family for the length of time the case took to come to court.

Young of SI Dismantling Ltd admitted a breach of Health and Safety legislation whereby he failed to give his employees proper instructions to demolish the building in Great Western Road, Buckie between October 14, 2013 and January 27, 2014.

The charge continued that he failed to monitor the work, provide site inductions, carry out regular inspections, failed to prevent waste materials being loaded against an interior wall and failed to implement a safe method of dismantling steel structures and walls.

Mr Thompson and a colleague went back on January 24, 2014 to cut up metal beams which had been taken down before the Christmas break. Three days later he was dead.

The court heard that other employees at the site said they felt "it was a rush job and corners were cut."

They said they had not received any formal training on how to carry out the demolition work and dismantling and had simply been told to "crack on."

Ms Swann said the men had been using diggers to bash at walls without fully knocking them down and also used an unsafe technique known as "bombing." Steel beams are picked up by the diggers and dropped on to concrete casings to break them up.

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