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West Bromwich boss jailed for fatal factory fall

By Annabal Bagdi | West Bromwich | Crime | Published:

A BUSINESSMAN who attempted to dupe officials investigating a roofer's death after he 'neglected' health and safety laws has been jailed.

Wolverhampton Crown Court

David Jones looked on as he was jailed for two years for fabricating safety management records after his employee plummeted from an asbestos-ridden factory roof.

The 64-year-old, of Vantage Point, Blacksmith Way, West Bromwich, confessed he also failed to provide adequate safety equipment and supervise 'hazardous' work at the factory.

His daughter Rebecca Jones walked from Wolverhampton Crown Court with a suspended sentence after being 'emotionally pressurised' to help her father in his 'cover-up' following the West Bromwich workplace tragedy.

Sentencing on Friday, Judge Barry Berlin said it was 'blindingly obvious' that safety measures needed to be in place before workman Stephen Wallace climbed onto the 'fragile' roof.

He condemned the defendant for his 'flawed and dangerous' work practices, which saw a different employee caught up in a 'near-miss' incident just a year before Mr Wallace's fatal fall.

The judge said the death was 'certainly avoidable', adding: "David Jones fell short in respect of his duty to ensure the health and safety of Stephen Wallace.

"There could have been something like a net underneath [the roof], which would have prevented the death."

Mr Wallace was at Bromford Iron and Steel's factory when he fell through a roof sky light he was fixing and plunged onto concrete floor 8m below on September 10, 2009.

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The 45-year-old was working for David Jones, who won the contract to refurbish the Bromford Lane factory from 70-year-old Raymond Brady's company.

While he lay in hospital fighting for his life, David Jones conspired with Raymond Brady to fake a risk assessment and method statement he failed to carry out after fearing the pair would be in trouble.

They then claimed the workplace examination was in place the month before Mr Wallace's death in an attempt to fool police and health and safety investigators.

But police only discovered the documents had been forged five years later when Jones was called to give evidence at Mr Wallace's inquest and confessed to his offending.

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Rebecca Jones, of The Sidings, West Bromwich, later admitted she agreed to help her 'distraught' father by producing the backdated documents and later lying about it.

The 38-year-old was handed an eight-month sentence, suspended for two years, and told to carry out 120 hours unpaid work and pay £500 costs.

The Jones', who must pay a victim surcharge, admitted attempting to pervert the course of justice, while David Jones admitted a further count of failing to discharge his responsibility to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees between August and November 2009.

Brady, of Warwick Road, Solihull, was declared unfit to plead and handed an absolute discharge last week after jurors found he did an act tending and intending to pervert the course of justice.

Annabal Bagdi

By Annabal Bagdi
@AnnabalB_Star

Senior reporter based at Wolverhampton

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