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Construction boss jailed after workers fall to deaths from balcony

The court was told the incident had been preventable.

A construction boss has been jailed for 14 months for “shocking failures” which resulted in two workmen falling to their deaths from a balcony during a multimillion-pound luxury flat refit.

Tomasz Procko, 22, and Karol Symanski, 29, died in an “entirely foreseeable and preventable” accident while hauling a large sofa up through the first floor balcony.

Jurors at the Old Bailey heard the project was behind schedule with a budget soaring to £920,000 by the time the 11ft, 18 stone sofa was delivered in November 2014.

The scene of the incident in which the two men were killed (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA)

Martinisation (London) Limited which already had a “long and unhappy history of neglect of health and safety” denied wrong-doing along with its managing director, who declined to give evidence.

A jury found the now-defunct firm guilty of health and safety breaches and two charges of corporate manslaughter, while Martin Gutaj, 44, from Brentford, was convicted of breaching health and safety.

Mr Procko’s parents made statements about their “irreversible loss” which were read in court in their absence.

Agnieszka Procko described her son as a “wonderful intelligent person who loved life very much” and a “sensitive boy” well liked by his friends.

Tomasz Procko, 22, and Karol Symanski, 29, fell to their deaths in November 2014 (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA)

She said: “We as a family are not judging anyone but our world has collapsed after the death of our son. Maybe if the standards were maintained then this terrible tragedy would not have happened.

“We do not feel resentment or anger towards anyone but it is not for us to assess who bears the responsibility for the death of our son. Let the court decide this.”

Father Witold Procko told how Tomasz only came to London to help him pay off his debts in Poland.

He said: “What happened on that cruel Friday crosses through all of my life accomplishments and nothing will make amends to that what happened and the fact that he is no longer here.

The two men were trying to move a large sofa at the time (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA)

“I’m sad, I’m angry amongst other things at myself because of my financial problems Tomasz found himself in London. I do not wish my worst enemy to have to live through something like this.

“Those that do feel guilty let them say a prayer for Tomek. They know who they are without any investigation or court case.”

The court heard that at the time, the company, which specialised in “high end residential contracts” in Kensington and Chelsea, had a turnover of £9.7 million a year but had gone into liquidation in August last year.

Jim Ageros QC for Gutaj said his client had offered his condolences for the deaths which were also a “personal disaster” for the builder who is originally from Poland.

Following his conviction he was forced to lay off workers and any prison sentence would affect his future business, the barrister said.

The case was heard at the Old Bailey (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA)

Mr Ageros said Gutaj was “not a man of substantial means” but did have the prospect of future earnings in the UK and Poland.

David Travers QC, for Martinisation, suggested despite being in liquidation, the firm would be able to pay a fine.

Sentencing, Judge Gerald Gordon said company documents were “for show” and a health and safety culture was “entirely lacking”, despite warnings.

On the day of the accident, there was a “shocking failure to consider the health and safety of employees and others”, he said.

Judge Gordon said Gutaj’s motives for ignoring the warnings “must have been in one way or another to benefit his business”.

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