South Scotland

Firm fined after boy crushed by power line pole in Kelloholm

Keiran Esquierdo Image copyright Police Scotland
Image caption Keiran Esquierdo died in the accident in Kelloholm in October 2017

A firm has been fined £160,000 after a schoolboy was crushed to death by a heavy wooden pole.

Keiran Esquierdo died at the scene of the accident in Kelloholm, in Dumfries and Galloway, in October 2017.

SPIE Ltd of London admitted health and safety failures over what Sheriff Brian Mohan called a "tragic error".

The schoolboy's family said they hoped lessons could be learned from the case in order to avoid similar tragedies in future.

Dumfries Sheriff Court heard how the poles had been delivered to the wrong site - just a short distance from where they should have been located.

The 12-year-old was playing in the area when one of the poles - used in replacing power lines - broke loose, rolled down an embankment and crushed him.

Emergency services responded after the alarm was raised by his friends but he died at the scene.

Image copyright Digby Brown Solicitors
Image caption The 12-year-old was playing in the area when he was struck by the pole

"It was a tragic error not lessened by the fact that a combination of circumstances led to this death of a young boy on a Sunday afternoon when he was out playing with friends," said the sheriff.

The company admitted failing to provide the necessary instruction and training on the delivery and storage of poles.

It also failed to ensure people not in their employment were not exposed to health and safety risks.

The court was told the firm operated throughout the UK and had the "highest regard" to health and safety.

Sheriff Mohan said the fine would have been £240,000 but it was reduced by a third because of the plea of guilty.

In a statement, Keiran's family said their lives would "never be the same" after his death.

"He was a beautiful, fun and popular boy and we will continue to remember him, his laugh and the good times," they said.

"For the last two years we've waited for answers and justice as we couldn't heal and start to think of the future without a conclusion to the past.

"Now that it's resolved we hope companies learn from our loss so other families - and also their employees - are spared the pain of having to cope with a death like this."

'Sincere condolences'

They thanked friends, family and the community for the support they had received.

Damian White, partner with their solicitors Digby Brown, said the case was made all the more tragic by "just how avoidable" it had been.

SPIE said its "thoughts and sincere condolences" went out to the family and the community.

It said it had provided "full co-operation" with the investigation and new processes had been put in place immediately to ensure there could be no repeat of such an incident.

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