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Monday, 20 May, 2002, 20:52 GMT 21:52 UK
Student rail worker 'unlawfully killed'
Michael Mungovan
Michael Mungovan was a talented sportsman
A student who died after being hit by a train while working part-time for a railway maintenance sub-contractor was "unlawfully killed", an inquest jury has decided.

Michael Mungovan, 21, was working without qualified supervision near Vauxhall station in south London on 9 October, 2000, Southwark Coroner's Court was told.

His family blamed a lack of training for his death and police have confirmed they will reopen the criminal investigation.

Mr Mungovan began the job three days earlier, a post he was given by employment agency McGinley Recruitment Services.

If this young lad has been placed in danger by his employer, then surely there should be action taken

Bob Crow
RMT union

The agency was being used by sub-contractors Balfour Beatty Rail Maintenance Ltd (BBRM) to maintain the line for its owners, Railtrack.

John Murphy of the British Transport Police said witnesses at the inquest may by interviewed again and the file sent to the crown prosecution service.

The two-week inquest was told Mr Mungovan, from Co Clare in Ireland, was a leisure management student at Brunel University in west London.

Mr Mungovan was part of a two-man team securing a section of track for maintenance on one of the busiest lines in the country.

As he walked between two live rails, he was hit from behind by a train travelling at 50mph while walking up the wrong line, and died instantly.

Suspended

His colleague, who was in a safe area, did not have the relevant supervision skills, the court heard.

And Mr Mungovan did not have a valid track safety card.

The experienced worker who Mr Mungovan was assigned to work with was suspended at the time, the jury was told.

Training was paid for by McGinley and, according to Balfour Beatty, was 22 hours long, including time in the classroom and on a rural single track in Oxfordshire.
Mr Mungo, Michael's father
Danny Mungovan: backed the verdict

A family statement said a lack of permanent staff led to a lack of "hands-on" control for the temporary workers recruited by the agency.

It claimed Mr Mungovan had only nine hours training and two shifts of work experience around trains and tracks.

Selina Lynch, coroner for Inner South of London, said after the verdict: "I hope there is never another life lost in this way and I would just like to express the sympathy we feel for the family."

A Balfour Beatty spokesman said they were considering the implication of the verdict and declined to comment further.

A statement from Dermot McGinley, chairman of the agency, extended their sympathies to the family and also declined to comment.

Prosecutions

Bob Crow, of the RMT union, said: "If this young lad has been placed in danger by his employer, then surely there should be action taken."

Mr Crow said there were different rules for individuals who caused deaths, such as Gary Hart in the Selby rail crash, and corporations.

Colin Chalmers, of the Simon Jones Memorial Campaign, a safety at work pressure group, said it was "almost impossible" to be held responsible for killing someone at work.

He claimed in the last four years there were only eight prosecutions from about 1,000 work-related deaths, with an average fine of 8,600.

Hours before Monday's verdict, Transport Secretary Stephen Byers promised to examine the role of contractors and sub-contractors who work on railway maintenance.


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See also:

20 May 02 | UK Politics
29 Nov 01 | England
21 Jul 02 | England
13 Dec 01 | UK
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