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Director fined over worker's death

A director of Southern Property Maintenance has been fined and given a suspended prison sentence following the death of a worker.

Richard James, 37, was acquitted at Lewes Crown Court in March of a charge of manslaughter by gross negligence but was found guilty on four counts of failing to discharge a duty imposed by Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, by failing to ensure the safety at work of his employees.

The charges follow the death of Shane Offer, 21, from Lancing, West Sussex, who died when he fell through the roof of bed superstore Rosebys in Shripney Road, Bognor, on June 2, 2009.

James, of First Avenue, Worthing, was handed down the six months suspended sentence and ordered to carry out 150 hours of community service at Hove Crown Court.

A spokesman for Sussex Police said he was also fined £120,000 with costs of £21,000

Judge Michael Lawson said: “It was an avoidable accident and both James and his company failed in their duty to protect the safety of their employees and the public.

“James was responsible as director of the company for a lack of a health and safety culture amongst his employees.”

The prosecution followed a probe by the Health and Safety Executive and police.