Published: 19:00, 21 July 2015
A construction boss blamed for the horrific death of a young dad-to-be buried alive in a trench has been given two years to cough up £75,000 - or go to prison.
Wayne Cooper was convicted of health and safety failures at a building site in Swalecliffe after tons of soil collapsed on 24-year-old Callum Osborne in 2011.
Cooper, 40, admitted the charges at Canterbury Crown Court on Friday and was given a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and fined £75,000 with £25,000 costs.
The judge said he took into account the effect prison would have on Cooper’s children and the loss of jobs at his new company if he jailed him immediately.
But he warned him that he would be imprisoned for 18 months if he failed to pay the fine within two years.
Mr Osborne lived in City View Avenue, Canterbury, with his partner Colette Scott, who has also just suffered the loss of her home in the devastating Tannery fire.
"What about our daughter who’s lost her father? I hoped he would go straight to prison because that’s what he deserved..." - Colette Scott
She branded the sentence “disgraceful”, adding: “What about our daughter who’s lost her father? I hoped he would go straight to prison because that’s what he deserved. He didn’t seem to show any remorse and I’m really unhappy about it.”
Cooper was running Cooper Services Ltd at the time of the tragedy.
Mr Osborne was standing in a deep trench laying pipes when the sides collapsed. He suffocated despite frantic efforts to uncover him.
Cooper, from Westgate in Thanet, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive for failing to control the risk of the trench collapsing by not supporting it, not implementing the company’s own health and safety policy and failing to adequately supervise the excavation or ensure his employees were adequately trained.
He spoke only to admit the failings.
When asked by the judge why he had not shored up the trench, his lawyer Peter Smith replied that his client had not thought it necessary.
But he also said Cooper was very remorseful about what had happened.
Miss Scott was seven months pregnant when Mr Osborne was killed. Their daughter Star is now four.
After the case, HSE inspector Melvyn Stancliffe said: “It was difficult not to be affected by the personal impact statement from Callum’s partner.
“This was a tragic incident but the outcome was entirely preventable had the appropriate safety measures been in place.”
Cooper dissolved the company, Cooper Services Ltd, after the tragedy.
He now runs Groundwork Solutions, which boasts on its website: “Health, Safety and Environmental best practice is at the heart of our organisation, with company policies adhering to all approved codes of practice and current legislation and guidelines.”
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