Firm pleads guilty to breaches leading to worker’s death

One of Northern Ireland’s largest construction firms and an architect have pleaded guilty to health and safety breaches which led to the death of a worker.

Antrim Crown Court heard on Friday that a temporary building fell on 62-year-old Desmond Stevenson in 2006.

The prosecution said the building at RAF Aldergrove was not properly supported and was not bolted down.

Henry Brothers and architect Anthony Stewart will be sentenced next week.

Mr Stewart was a joiner employed by the company in Magherafelt.

The firm had secured a £7.5m contract to move ten pre-fabricated units from one area to another at RAF Aldergrove.

The prosecution added that the risk of collapse had not been identified at the planning stage due to “inadequate risk assessment, design and supervision”.

A defence lawyer for Henry Brothers said that while the company accepted responsibility as the main contractor, none of the other experts on site appreciated the risk.

In a statement, the company expressed its condolences to Mr Stevenson’s family.

“Henry Brothers have provided their full co-operation and assistance to the Health and Safety Executive from the outset and throughout its investigation,” it read.

“We place the utmost priority on the health and safety of our employees and work strenuously to minimise risk and are committed to continual health and safety training for all employees.”

A lawyer for Mr Stewart said that although he was project manager, he was a step removed from having direct responsibility for health and safety.

He said his client had not been on site for six weeks before the accident and had been shocked to be caught up in the prosecution.