Construction bosses jailed after roofer’s death

John Spiller (left) and Steven Wenham (right) were both jailed after being found guilty of health and safety failings (Image: Sussex Police)
John Spiller (left) and Steven Wenham (right) were both jailed after being found guilty of health and safety failings (Image: Sussex Police)

A court has handed jail terms to two construction company bosses after a worker fell to his death.

Graham Tester, 60, died at a building site in Brunswick Street West, Hove, on Friday 27 July, 2018.

Southern Asphalt Limited subcontracted Tester as a roofer. He fell two storeys from a ladder. Only two nails hammered into a timber frame on either side held the ladder in place.

Jail sentences

A judge at Lewes Crown Court sentenced Steven Wenham (pictured above, right), 48, of Charlotte Street in Brighton, to five years in prison Tuesday (June 7). He previously pleaded not guilty to manslaughter by gross negligence.

Both he and his company, Total Contractors Ltd, were also found guilty of two offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act. These were regarding failure to properly safeguard against serious injury or death from a fall from height.

The court fined Total Contractors £190,000 and ordered it to pay £30,000 costs and a £170 victim surcharge.

Wenham was also disqualified from being a company director for 10 years.

John Spiller (pictured above, left), 52, of Fishersgate Close in Portslade, received a 15-month jail sentence. The court found him not guilty of manslaughter, but guilty of the same two health and safety offences as Wenham.

His roofing company, Southern Asphalt Ltd, also pleaded guilty to the same offence.

The company was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay costs of £20,000 and a victim surcharge of £170.

HSE inspection

An inspection from the HSE found multiple safety failings, including no scaffolding or barriers to protect those working at height.

Detective Inspector James Meanwell said: “The severity of these custodial sentences demonstrate the seriousness of employers failing in their duty of care to their employees.

“Graham Tester’s death was an avoidable tragedy that has had a devastating impact on his family and friends.

“These sentences should serve as a warning to all employers that you are responsible for the safety of your employees.”

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  1. What actually caused the victim to fall? It would aid safety on site to know this.

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