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Contractor faces Crown Court sentencing over child death on site

30th Mar 2022 | Trade & Construction

A Leeds-based construction company is facing a court sentence over the death of a seven-year-old child on one of its sites.

Howard Civil Engineering will be sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court on 5 May after a ruling at Barnsley Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

The firm pleaded guilty to two counts of breaching health and safety regulations related to preventing unauthorised access to sites and preventing risk of harm to people beyond its employment.

Conley Thompson, from Barnsley, died in 2015 after falling into a pipe on a construction site and becoming stuck.

Following a postmortem examination, police said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death.

Detective chief inspector Dave Stopford said in 2015: “The results of the postmortem suggest that Conley had, by some means, entered a vertical pipe on a nearby construction site and was unable to get out.

“Conley’s weight caused him to fall further into the pipe and pushed his clothing up around his body, restricting his breathing. There is no suggestion of any third-party involvement.”

Police worked with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to investigate the tragedy. Michael Howard, managing director of Howard Civil Engineering Ltd, registered to Howard House on Limewood Approach in Leeds, appeared at Barnsley Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

Prosecutors described evidence of previous unauthorised activity on the site in Bank End Road in Barnsley, according to a local report, while representatives of the defendant spoke of a sloping site and efforts made by the company to inspect and repair its perimeter fencing.

The HSE and Howard Civil Engineering have been contacted for comment.