"Real culprits not accountable" in engineer's death - claim

By Dave Doyle | 18/07/2017

'Real culprits not accountable' in engineer's death - claim

A JUDGE has begun summing up the case against frozen food giant Iceland, which accused of failing to protect a contractor who fell to his death.

Tony Hopkins (68), of Silsden in West Yorkshire, sustained a brain injury after crashing through a false ceiling at the store in Sycamore Road, Eastwood, in 2013 and died an hour later.

The air conditioning engineer had gone into a roof space to replace some filters, when he fell three metres onto his head, Sheffield Crown Court has heard.

Judge Roger Thomas QC started summarising evidence for jurors today, after hearing the closing remarks of defence and prosecution lawyers.

The prosecution earlier said Iceland failed to put in place any of 11 possible measures to ensure workers’ safety.

Mr John Cooper, defending, said the “real culprits” in Mr Hopkins' death were building contractors who failed to install a safety rail which might have broken his fall.

He asked: “Why don't you have here the obvious people who should be held accountable?

“Mr (Nicholas) de la Poer (prosecuting) doesn’t have the power to prosecute the real culprits.”

Mr Cooper also referred to “as-built drawings” of the site, found at the Eastwood Iceland store where Mr Hopkins died.

These formal documents should reflect finished construction works, he explained to jurors — but the missing handrail had been included in these diagrams.

“This is a permanent record of what is actually there,” said Mr Cooper. 

“It is there to be looked at by anyone charged with working in that area.

“It is not a peripheral document, as the prosecution has suggested.”

He further described defence witnesses, most of whom worked for Iceland or their subcontractors, as “down-to-earth, passionate and experienced guys”.

Jurors are due to retire to consider their verdicts this afternoon or tomorrow morning.

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