Page last updated at 17:01 GMT, Tuesday, 6 May 2008 18:01 UK

Roofing chief jailed over death

Daniel Dennis
Daniel Dennis had gone onto the store roof to look for a piece of timber

The owner of a roofing company has been jailed for 10 months after admitting the manslaughter of an apprentice who fell through a shop skylight.

Roy Clark, 50, from Cefn Cribwr, Bridgend, allowed Daniel Dennis, 17, to go onto the roof of a Matalan store without being properly supervised.

Daniel, from Pyle, Bridgend, had worked for the company for less than a week when he fell at Cwmbran, Torfaen.

The judge said the sentence would serve as a deterrent to other employers.

Clark was also ordered to pay 18,000 in court and Health and Safety Executive costs.

Daniel was working for Clark's company North Eastern Roofing in April 2003 when he went out onto a roof unaccompanied looking for a piece of timber for a colleague.

The court heard that he fell through a fragile roof light and suffered severe head injuries and internal bleeding, later dying in hospital.

Peter and Anthea Dennis
A prison sentence is immaterial - he has pleaded guilty and that's all we wanted
Peter Dennis, father of victim, pictured with his wife Anthea

Clark had admitted manslaughter by failing in his duty of care to Daniel.

Mr Justice Griffith Williams said: "This resulted in a loss of a young life, so full of promise.

"With one-fifth of construction deaths caused by falls from or through roofs, the dangers of working on roofs are all too obvious.

"As a man with 30 years' experience, you knew full well the dangers. Your sentence will serve as a deterrent for other business people."

'Long hard struggle'

Robin Spencer QC, prosecuting, said no-one knew whether Daniel had stepped onto the light or toppled through it.

David Aubrey QC, defending, said Mr Clark acknowledged he had failed to give general safety instructions not to go onto the roof or any other site without supervision.

"He failed to ensure that those who had supervision of Daniel were instructed adequately.

"He failed to ensure that the roof lights were adequately fenced off," he told the court.

Daniel had got the job after his father Peter, a friend of Clark's, had approached the roofer, but he had specifically asked for his son not to go onto roofs until he was properly trained, Mr Spencer told the court.

Clark was prosecuted following a campaign by Daniel's parents, Peter and Anthea Dennis, to get a judicial review to overturn a decision by the Crown Prosecution Service in 2006 not to hold a trial.

An inquest jury in Newport returned an unlawful killing verdict.

Mrs Dennis read out a statement in court describing the effect of losing her son.

"His enthusiasm for life took your breath away," she said. "I would give up my life to hold him for five minutes."

Speaking outside court, Mr Dennis said: "It is a relief. It has been a long hard struggle but we got justice for Daniel.

"I put my faith in the legal system and it has come up trumps. A prison sentence is immaterial - he has pleaded guilty and that's all we wanted.

"We have to serve a life sentence ourselves - me and my family will always be grieving."


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