Belfast Telegraph

Sawmill director admits guilt over death of worker

By Michael Donnelly

A director of a sawmill firm has formally pleaded guilty to causing the death to one of its workers two years ago.

Colm Diamond appeared before Antrim Crown Court to plead on behalf of the family-run firm, A Diamond and Son (Timber) Ltd, to the corporate manslaughter of 54-year-old father-of-three and grandfather Peter Lennon on September 27, 2012.

The company, based at Newmills Road in Coleraine which has more than 50 employees, accepted it had caused Mr Lennon's death by managing or organising its "activities in a way amounting to a gross breach of a relevant duty of care owed by you to the said deceased".

In court to hear the company's guilty plea were friends and family of Mr Lennon, including his widow Anne, who was embraced by Mr Diamond as she left court too distressed to talk to waiting reporters.

No details surrounding what was described as the "terrible and tragic" death of Mr Lennon were given to the court during the short hearing.

Adjourning the case, jointly prosecuted by the police and Health and Safety Executive, Judge Desmond Marrian said while the legislation provided for unlimited fines, it was first necessary to examine the company's strengths and profits.

Judge Marrian added that an agreed prosecution and defence statement of facts concerning "this terrible tragedy" was also needed, and that in the meantime the court could do nothing but express its considerable sadness to the family and friends of Mr Lennon, described as "an extremely important, hard-working and dedicated family man who did not deserve this".

Defence QC Greg Berry said that on behalf of the family-run company, he had been specifically instructed to express its "genuine, heartfelt sorrow and remorse at the tragic death of not only an employee, but also a friend".

Mr Berry also revealed that there had been a number of applications before the court, including a 'No Bill Application', whereby the company could have made legal submissions that they had no case to answer in respect of Mr Lennon death.

However, the lawyer said that in coming into court, he had been given "specific instructions to abandon that application".

The firm is the third company in recent years to accept responsibility for the death of an employee. The first case was in 2012.

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