Concrete company in court for corporate manslaughter

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Representatives of concrete and quarry company FP McCann have appeared in court accused of corporate manslaughter.

The company, with its head office on the Drumard Road, Knockloughrim, is charged with causing the death of Victor Nicholl on March 13 2015 in that “you managed or organised your activities in a way amounting to a gross breach of a relevant duty of care owed by you to the said deceased”.

It was reported at the time that Mr Nicholl, who was 62 when he was killed, had been driving a 60-tonne dumper truck shortly before the incident at a quarry in south Co Londonderry.

FP McCann, which manufactures, supplies and delivers concrete products, faces three further charges under health and safety legislation accusing the company of failing to ensure the health and safety of employees, failing to ensure the quarry and its plant are “designed, constructed, equipped, commissioned, operated and maintained in such a way that persons at work can perform the work assigned to them without endangering their own health and safety”, and failing to ensure that “there was a suitable restraining system for Victor Nicholl who was a person being carried by mobile work equipment at risk of being crushed by its rolling over”.

The case against the company had been scheduled for an arraignment at Antrim Crown Court yesterday but that was adjourned following an application by defence QC Frank O’Donoghue.

He told Judge Desmond Marrinan that despite having read the prosecution evidence, “I have difficulty understanding what is being alleged against my client as to what the gross breach is”.

The lawyer explained that when it comes to an offence of corporate manslaughter, there has to be a “gross breach of the organisation and management of the business going through to managerial chain,” adding that “it’s not obvious to me what is the emphasis of the prosecution case”.

Asking for the case to be adjourned to June 22, Mr O’Donoghue said he would undertake to lodge a skeleton argument by June 20 with the Crown to lodge theirs a week before.