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Thursday, 29 November, 2001, 19:00 GMT
Company fined over student's death
Simon Jones protest
Campaigners fought to get the case to court
A company was fined 50,000 for safety breaches following the death of a student within hours of him taking a casual labouring job.

An Old Bailey judge described Euromin Ltd's failure to assess workplace safety as "absolutely deplorable".

But a legal battle by Simon Jones's family and protest campaigners, to see the company prosecuted for corporate manslaughter, ended in failure.

A jury at the Old Bailey cleared general manager Richard Martell and Euromin Ltd of manslaughter.

The law's regular refusal to punish serious crimes like this just indicates how casual workers' health is seen as unimportant

Simon Jones Memorial Campaign statement

Euromin was found guilty of two breaches of health and safety regulations and ordered to pay 20,000 costs in addition to the fine.

Mr Jones, 24, a Sussex University student, died in April 1998 after starting work unloading stones from a cargo ship at Shoreham docks, west Sussex.

His head was crushed in the jaws of a mechanical excavation claw which had been adapted to lift bags of aggregate from the ship.

His parents, Chris and Anne and brother Timothy, wiped away tears and hugged each other outside court.

A decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions not to bring criminal charges against the company was quashed following a judicial review last year.

Subsequently the decision to proceed was taken by the DPP following a meeting with the family.

Simon Jones
Simon Jones: Killed by a crane
Old Bailey Judge David Stokes said he considered the failure to make a proper assessment of the unloading techniques was a serious lack of safety procedure.

He said the method of attaching bags on to a hook on the claw should never had been used and the company's excuses for not having its safety assessed were "lamentable".

Judge Stokes said: "The failure to do that was absolutely deplorable in my view. If it had been done, the death of this young man might have been avoided."

Martell and Euromin had denied the allegations. Martell told the court he believed he had taken adequate safety measures.

The court was told it was believed the excavator's claw had closed prematurely after another worker's clothing accidentally became attached to a lever.

Many deaths

After the verdict was delivered members of the Simon Jones Memorial Campaign, who carried out a series of high-profile protests before the case went to court, said they were "understandably disappointed".

However, they stressed the fact that while Mr Jones' case reached court, most workplace deaths in the UK never even get investigated.

In a statement they said: "We would say there is nothing minor about crimes that lead to the death of workers like Simon.

"The law's regular refusal to punish these serious crimes is just one more indication of how little importance our law makers give to casual workers' health, safety and right to life."

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29 Nov 01 | England
09 Nov 01 | England
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