A meat packing and distribution company has been fined £25,000 after a father-of-four was left "close to being in a vegetative state" following an industrial accident.
Linden Foods was yesterday handed the fine at Omagh Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, by Judge Patrick Lynch QC.
Judge Lynch said there had been a "tragic catalogue of factors" which lead to 255 kilos falling on 32-year-old Lucas Da Costa on February 25 last year.
Mr Da Costa, originally from East Timor, had worked for the Dungannon company as a stores operative since January 2008 before the pallets fell on him.
The truck he was using did not have any overhead protection and he was left with brain injuries to such an extent that he now lives in a nursing home and cannot communicate or do things for himself.
Prosecution lawyer Robin Steer told the court the problem was that the pallet truck Mr Da Costa used had forks one metre long but the Euro pallet he was lifting was only 80cm deep, so the forks "protruded out 20cm and into the stack behind", adding that when he lifted it, they fell on him.
The lawyer said that normally Euro pallets are made of different materials and are a different colour to the standard pallet, but tragically on this occasion all the pallets concerned were blue, so Mr Da Costa would not have known they were different depths.
Another factor which led to the accident was that the firm had taken a delivery of trays on pallets which were stacked on Euro pallets when they should have been on standard pallets.
The father-of-four was rushed to hospital and then transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital where he was treated for bleeding on the brain as well as multiple fractures to his skull and facial bones.
The court heard that there had been an admission of guilt by Linden Foods and a "prompt response" to what had happened.
Linden Foods, with an address at the Granville Industrial Estate, Granville Road in Dungannon, pleaded guilty to two counts of health and safety breaches.
Defence lawyer Stuart Spence revealed that since the accident Linden Foods had spent more than £70,000 on improving health and safety practices. He told the court that the company had already admitted liability in civil proceedings, were still paying Mr Da Costa's wages to his wife and that his cousin, who also works for the company, is allowed to leave work to help out when required.