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'Mistake' by untrained worker caused Worthing crane deaths

Two construction workers fell to their death after an unsupervised colleague mistakenly loosened the bolts of the crane they were working on in West Sussex, a court has been told.

Gary Miles, 37, and Steven Boatman, 45, were killed in February 2005 on the site of a new school in Durrington, near Worthing, when the 35m-high crane – being dismantled – toppled over..

A third man, Dave Smith, who had loosened the bolts, was also injured but escaped the incident with broken bones.

Chichester Crown Court heard the three men were employees of Aldershot-based crane company Eurolift (Tower Cranes), which had been taken over by WD Bennett Plant & Services.

The firm had been hired to provide, erect and dismantle two cranes by Willmott Dixon, the principal contractor on the construction of the special education needs school.

On the day of the accident Eurolift co-founder and health and safety manager, Tony Ferris, had called in sick.

The jury was told this had caused a “management vacuum”.

Prosecutor Nigel Lithman said Mr Smith, who had been helping dismantle the crane, was untrained and had little understanding of the risks involved.

WD Bennett denies two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act.