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Worthing crane collapse judge has no regrets

A crown court judge has expressed his satisfaction that tower crane firm Eurolift has stopped trading following the 2005 Worthing crane collapse.

Judge William Wood said it was better that than the company get away with “a trivial fine that does not reflect the gravity of the offence”.

He said Eurolift’s safety breaches – which resulted in the deaths of two men when a crane at a school site toppled – were serious enough to attract a fine of up to £200,000.

However, taking into account the current financial state of the company, he imposed a fine of £50,000 and ordered it to pay costs of £1,000.

Chichester Crown Court was forced to adjourn the sentencing of parent company WD Bennetts Plant and Services after no representatives showed up at the hearing.

When Construction News went to print, a date had not been set for a new sentencing hearing.

But Mr Wood commented: “It seems to be right that Eurolift should discontinue trading rather than for me to impose a trivial fine that does not reflect the gravity of the offence.”

The Health and Safety Executive announced it would prosecute the companies in March. Eurolift pleaded guilty to two safety breaches. WD Bennett denied its charges, but was later found guilty by a jury.

Following conviction, WD Bennetts Plant and Services was placed into administration. Last month the company changed its name to WDB1.

Eurolift (Tower Cranes) still exists but is no longer trading.

Tragedy at school

Gary Miles, 37, and Steven Boatman, 45, were fatally injured when the 36 m tower crane they were dismantling at a school site in Durrington toppled.

A third man, Dave Smith, who was found to have mistakenly loosened the mast bolts on the crane, suffered broken bones in the incident. All three men were employees of Eurolift.

HSE inspector Peter Collingwood, who led the investigation, said: “This was a wholly avoidable tragedy in which two men lost their lives and another was seriously injured. There was potential for many more lives to be lost.”

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