Four men jailed after scaffolder dies in church collapse

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Four men will serve suspended prison sentences after a church in Cardiff collapsed killing a worker.

Experienced scaffolder Jeffrey Joseph Plevey, 55, from Radyr, died when the derelict building of the former Citadel Church in Splott, Cardiff, fell down as he worked on it in July 2017.

Cardiff Crown Court heard how people had been put to work on a scaffold against a ‘towering stone wall’ that managers, safety professionals and contractors knew, or could see, was obviously unstable before work started. 

A collapsed wall is shown and bent scaffold. Photograph: South Wales Police / HSE

Keith Young and Stewart Swain were both convicted of criminal health and safety offences following the incident.

A jury found Young guilty of failing to take necessary steps to ensure a structure does not collapse when carrying out construction work contrary to Construction (Design and Management) Regulations and the Health and Safety at Work Act. Young will serve a 45-week sentence suspended for 18 months and must pay costs of £66,000.

Swain and his company, Swain Scaffolding Ltd, were also found guilty of breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act. Swain serves a 39-week sentence suspended for 15 months and his company was fined £120,000.

A further two men were convicted. Phil Thomas, 57, of Thornhill, Cardiff was given a 36-week sentence suspended for 15 months. Thomas worked for South Wales Safety Consultancy Ltd, which has also been fined nearly £100,000.

Jeff Plevey was a hard working and popular man. Photograph: South Wales Police / HSE

Richard Dean, 60, of Abertillery, Blaenau Gwent, who worked for NJP Consultant Engineers Ltd, was handed a 35-week sentence suspended for 15 months. His company was fined £93,300.

A fourth company, Strongs Partnership Ltd was fined £33,500. In total, four firms received combined fines of more than £340,000.

The case was sentenced on 3 March at Cardiff Crown Court following an 11-week trial. A joint investigation, led by the Major Crime Team of South Wales Police, alongside HSE, was carried out into the incident which happened on 18 July in 2017.

Detective Inspector Stuart Wales, from the South Wales Police Major Crime Investigation Team, said: “Jeff Plevey was a popular hard-working man who was owed a duty of care when he went into work that day..

“Our thoughts are with Jeff’s family and friends who have waited four and a half years to see justice done following his untimely and avoidable death.”

Speaking after the hearing, investigating HSE inspector Liam Osborne said: “The demolition and scaffolding were badly planned and dangerously carried out from the very beginning, and throughout the job. Instead of the building being made safer as demolition progressed, it became even more unstable.  Those people who made bad decisions, gave poor advice, or failed to act in the face of extreme and obvious risk have now been held accountable.”

HSE said that remote methods of demolition, sharing critical information between parties and putting in a system of managed checks would have prevented this incident.



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