Northern Ireland

Diamond and Son fined over Peter Lennon's death

A County Londonderry timber company has been ordered to pay over £90,000 in fines and costs for criminal safety failings that led to the death of an employee.

Peter Lennon, 54, was crushed to death on 27 September 2012.

Coleraine-based, Diamond and Son (Ltd), pleaded guilty in December to the corporate manslaughter of Mr Lennon.

They were fined a total of £75,000, plus costs of over £15,000 on Wednesday.

The judge at Antrim Crown Court told directors of Diamond and Son (Timber) Ltd, that he was "staggered" by the fact that the 75-year-old family-run company with 50 employees had not been told how to operate their machinery in safety maintenance mode.

However, he was prepared to accept the gross failures resulted from a combination of human failings and that profit was not the driving force behind the tragic accident, which the judge described as having an "incalculable loss" for Mr Lennon's family.

Afterwards a spokesperson for the Lennon family said they wished to thank the authorities for all the help and support shown them.

"The family would like to thank the PSNI, HESNI, PPS, and counsel for their support and professionalism during this difficult and distressing time," the spokesman said.

Earlier Mr Lennon's family had listened as a prosecuting lawyer described the tragedy as "an accident waiting to happen" and that the failure in the company's health and safety procedures meant the employees carrying out maintenance were "basically taking their lives in their own hands".

"It was," the lawyer said, "a recipe for disaster".

A defence lawyer said the company regarded Mr Lennon as a "good man ... and a good employee .... and the company accepts it just did not take good enough care of him".

He added that since "this terrible incident", Diamond's had done all in its power "to mend matters" and had also set up a "new gold standard" where safety was concerned, and what happened was "not a question of short changing or trying to cut corners" in the "pursuit of profits".

Linda Murphy, an inspector with HSENI's major investigation team, said "Our thoughts are with Peter Lennon's family today.

"Peter's tragic death could easily have been avoided if his employer had properly considered the risks associated with maintenance of the saw.

"Safety devices must be used and safe systems of work, such as using the machine in maintenance mode, must be followed at all times. Failure to do so costs lives."

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