Health and Safety

Patrick has been in silk for over 26 years, during which time he has acted for the defence in a number of fatal and non-fatal health and safety prosecutions.

He travels extensively in this work having done trials in Cardiff, Swansea, Caernarfon and Exeter.

Health and Safety Cases

R v TJ Smith Contracting Limited (Exeter Crown Court). – TJ Smith Contracting Limited was charged with offences under sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety Act 1974. The company operated Mobile Elevated Working Platforms (commonly known as “cherry pickers”) as part of its decorating business. In December 2014 one platform toppled over, throwing clear one worker who was not harnessed but causing a crash injury to a worker who was wearing an appropriate harness. Although he did not suffer serious injuries he subsequently died of an embolism. At trial the defence successfully argued that as there was no causation between any fault of the defendant company and the death evidence of the fatality should be excluded. Although the company was convicted of both counts the modest fine imposed reflected the lack of culpability for the death.

R v DL [Cardiff Crown Court] (2010) – Represented, with Carwyn Cox, a Company charged with Health and Safety offences arising from a fatal accident at a water pumping station. The case was stayed as an abuse of process after lengthy arguments.

R v Fryer [Sheffield Crown Court] (2009) – Donald Fryer was the captain of a North Sea rig support vessel. When leaving port the anchor was hauled in and the anchor chain held within a chain locker. If unrestrained the chain rattled and disturbed crewmembers especially when they were trying to sleep. One crewmember opened the chain locker hatch intending to tie the chain down: he did not realise the toxic air within the chamber and within seconds of entering collapsed dead. A colleague entered the locker intent on rescue: he too collapsed dead within seconds. A third colleague suffered precisely the same fate. Donald Fryer was charged with the marine equivalent of manslaughter. After a three-week trial at Sheffield Crown Court he was acquitted of all three counts.

R v Reed [Cardiff Crown Court, Pitchford J] (2009) – With Carwyn Cox, successful defence of a company employee charged with manslaughter following a fatal accident at a water pumping station.

R v Porter (2008) – Philip Porter was the proprietor of a private school in Bangor, North Wales catering for children aged three upwards. The school building was not purpose built. A four-year-old child jumped down the last few stone steps of a perfectly safe set of steps in the school playground. He fell, banged his head and tragically died of his injuries. Mr Porter was prosecuted, personally, for alleged breaches of the Health and Safety Act 1974. At the conclusion of his trial at Mold Crown Court, to the surprise of many, he was convicted. On appeal to the Court of Appeal (Moses LJ) his appeal against conviction was allowed. The case is extensively quoted in academic and other learned articles as authority for the proposition that it is unreasonable to expect all risk to be avoided. Please read the article on this case in the New Law Journal.

R v Barton – The defendant was a CORGI registered gas fitter. He carried out a service on a gas boiler in a house in Derbyshire. A week later a 15-year-old girl whose school had closed for the day because of a heavy snowfall met up with her older boyfriend at the house. Whilst occupied upstairs they each died of carbon monoxide poisoning.
The defendant was prosecuted for alleged offences under the Health and Safety Act.
At his trial at Nottingham Crown Court a jury failed to agree.
The retrial took place and again the jury failed to agree.
The prosecution then offered no further evidence and not guilty verdicts were entered.