Gazeley project manager in court over fatal wall collapse

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A bricklayer died when a wall collapsed on him after his boss ignored a fellow worker’s warning a court has heard.

Gareth Jones, 28, of Berwick Place, Welwyn Garden City was working on a new garden store room in Mile House Lane, St Albans on January 30 2013 when the wall collapsed killing him instantly.

Linley Developments from Welwyn Garden City has admitted causing the young father’s death.

Managing director Trevot Hyatt, 49, of Chapel Lane, Letty Green, Hertford and project manager Alfred Barker, 59, of Gazeley each pleaded guilty to two charges of breaching Health and Safety regulations.

St Albans Crown Court heard today that that the company was instructed to build a three bedroom house on the site for £376,000. In addition it was agreed to build a storage room in the garden for £34,900.

The latter was to be built next to the 2.9metre wall but plans the company worked from were incomplete and the wall was ‘not fit for purpose’ as a retaining wall, prosecutor Mark Dennis told the court.

Only soil on the garden side of the wall prevented it from falling. Some 60 tonnes had been removed but no supports or buttresses placed against it the court heard.

Mr Dennis said that no structural engineer was engaged or inspected the wall.

A Health and Safety Executive investigation found that the company’s planning had been ‘woefully inadequate’ the court heard.

One of the workers, Andy Davies, told Mr Hyatt that the wall needed underpinning but had been brushed off said Mr Dennis.

As Mr Jones was hammering pins into the ground the wall collapsed covering him with debris and killing him.

In a victim impact statement to the judge his widow Lianne, 34, said: “I didn’t just lose my husband, I lost my best friend, my future and a big part of myself. Gareth was a devoted father and husband. He was hard working and didn’t deserve to lose his life.”

Civil procveedings against the company are in progress.

The case continues.