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Northern Ireland roofing firm director faces trial over death of worker Hugh Thomas Jack

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Accused: Stephen Heaney

Accused: Stephen Heaney

Accused: Stephen Heaney

A director of a roofing company is to go on trial later this year for causing the death of an employee.

Stephen Heaney denied manslaughter when he appeared at Downpatrick Crown Court yesterday.

The 51-year-old pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter of Hugh Thomas Jack on December 3, 2016.

Mr Jack was a 59-year-old father-of-five who was originally from Scotland.

He moved to west Belfast after serving a prison sentence relating to republican activity.

He died following the accident at premises where he was working in Carryduff on the outskirts of Belfast.

Mr Heaney, from Hill Street in Ballymena, also entered not guilty pleas to five offences under health and safety legislation on behalf of H&M Engineering and Roofing specialists.

The Ballymena man, who is a director of the defendant company, denied allegations that the company failed to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees; failed to make appropriate risk assessments; failed to plan, supervise and carry out work in a safe manner; failed to take suitable measures to prevent a person from falling, and failed to notify the enforcing authorities that Mr Jack "had died as a result of an accident arising out of or in connection with work".

Following the denials, defence QC Frank O'Donoghue told the court he had instructed a forensic engineering expert to produce a report for the trial.

He added: "If I can be frank with the court, the health and safety charges will not form the gravamen of this case, the gravamen will be the manslaughter offence."

He suggested, and prosecuting QC Charles McCreanor agreed, that the trial would be completed within two weeks and Judge Geoffrey Miller QC told the senior barristers he wanted to have the trial completed before the summer recess.

"Very much at the forefront of one's mind, given the nature of the primary charge, is the fact that there is a grieving family in the background of all of this and that cannot be ignored," the judge said.

Freeing Mr Heaney on bail, the judge listed the trial to begin on June 15 and said he would review the case on April 1.

Belfast Telegraph