Page last updated at 14:50 GMT, Friday, 19 June 2009 15:50 UK

Crane hire firm fined over deaths

The collapsed crane and an ambulance attending to the casualties
Mr Miles and Mr Boatman were preparing to dismantle the crane

A crane hire company has been fined after two workers fell to their deaths when a crane collapsed.

Gary Miles, 37, and Steven Boatman, 45, from Berkshire, died in 2005 as the 118ft (36m) tower crane was being dismantled in Durrington, West Sussex.

They were working for Eurolift (Tower Cranes) Ltd, which was taken over by WD Bennett Plant & Services Ltd in 2003.

Eurolift was fined £50,000 for health and safety breaches and £1,000 in costs, at Chichester Crown Court.

The Hampshire-based company had admitted the breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 at an earlier hearing.

'Pistol shots'

Judge William Wood said the company deserved to be fined up to £200,000, but he accepted it would not be able to afford it as it had ceased operations since the accident.

WD Bennett, based in Gloucestershire, is currently in administration and will be sentenced when financial information becomes available.

It had denied both health and safety breaches but was found guilty following a trial at the same court in March.

Map of the area

The crane had been used in the construction of a school in Durrington before it collapsed.

A third man, Dave Smith, suffered broken bones in the incident.

During the trial, he told the court he had been asked to loosen the bolts of the crane's tower despite having no training.

Witnesses described hearing "a noise like pistol shots" as the crane collapsed while Mr Miles and Mr Boatman were still up it.

Both men were flung off, and died of multiple head and chest injuries.

Jurors heard there had been a "management vacuum" at the site because the person in charge of health and safety was off sick on the day of the accident.

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