Northern Ireland

Contractor Norman McKenzie jailed over roof fall death

Farm shed which Petyo Hristanov and Millen Dimov fell from
Image caption Peyto Hristanov fell from this shed on the Derrycarne Road in Portadown in January 2015

A Dungannon building contractor given a suspended sentence after the death of a worker in a fall has been jailed for two years by the Court of Appeal.

Norman McKenzie of Drumgose Road was sentenced in March after he admitted the manslaughter of Petyo Hristanov, 57. He was also fined £3,000.

On Thursday, the Court of Appeal ruled that sentence was unduly lenient.

Mr Hristanov fell from a partially-constructed farm shed in Portadown in January 2015.

The court heard that Mr Hristanov, who was originally from Bulgaria, and workmate Millen Dimov, were given no safety precautions to protect themselves while on the roof, such as scaffolding, a safety net, an elevated platform or harnesses.

Image caption Petyo Hristanov was originally from Bulgaria

It was also told that McKenzie did not carry out a risk assessment or briefing. The situation was made more dangerous by the rainy conditions at the time.

Mr Hristanov began to slide feet first from the roof and screamed for help. Mr Dimov grabbed his arm but could not stop him and both men fell to the ground.

Mr Dimov suffered minor injuries.

Image caption Norman McKenzie was given a suspended sentence in March

The Court of Appeal found that the risk of death or serious injury was foreseeable for men working from a height of five meters without protection, particularly in the weather conditions prevailing that day.

There was a total absence of safety assessment or precautions and Mr McKenzie fell "wantonly short" of the standard to be expected from employers of workmen, the court found.

It also believed that this was not a one-off occurrence: It said the "complete lack of insight" shown by McKenzie during his interviews meant such breaches were likely to have been common in his employment.

The court also said that McKenzie did not accept responsibility for some time and had made "unjustified attempts" to blame Mr Hristanov for failure to take precautions for his own safety.

It said his plea of guilty was entered only at a very late stage and after the jury had been sworn in.

McKenzie must serve 12 months in prison and 12 months on licence.

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