Nick Cotter in complex health and safety case : R v Young & Others 2021 (Cardiff)

4th March 2022

3PB criminal and regulatory barrister Nick Cotter,Nicholas CotterCall: 1999 pictured here, represented South Wales Safety Consultancy Ltd which was one of the defendants in a Crown Court trial, after a scaffolder was crushed to death when a church collapsed ahead of its demolition in Cardiff. This was a complex case concerning individual corporate defendants facing a range of offences and four contractors were given suspended prison sentences.

Keith Young was the contractor in charge of the demolition, while Stewart Swain was the director of the company hired to erect the scaffolding. Both stood trial at Cardiff Crown Court, accused of gross negligence manslaughter in relation to Jeff Plevey’s death but were acquitted by a jury. Both were convicted of lesser health and safety offences. The owner of the Citadel Church, Mark Gulley, from Penarth, and Richard Lyons were also on trial but were acquitted of all charges against them. Mr Gulley’s company Amos Projects Limited, and Mr Lyons’ Optima Scaffold Design Solutions Ltd, also received not guilty verdicts.

Nick's client Phillip Thomas from Cardiff ,who was Young’s health and safety adviser from South Wales Safety Consultancy Ltd, and Richard Dean, of Abertillery, from NJP Consultant Engineers Ltd, had pleaded guilty to health and safety offences before the trial. NJP Consultant Engineers Ltd were fined £93,3000 and ordered to pay costs and its director Richard Dean given a suspended sentence. South Wales Safety Consultancy Ltd was fined £97,000, ordered to pay costs and its director Phillip Thomas was also given a suspended sentence. Strongs Partnership Limited also pleaded guilty to health and safety offences before the trial and were ordered to pay a fine of £33,500 and costs.

Young was given a suspended sentenced ​and ordered to pay costs, while Swain was given a suspended sentenced and his company was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay costs.

The case was reported in The Independent and BBC news.