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Construction bosses jailed after roofer fell to his death

Steven Wenham, 48, of Brighton, was sentenced to five years in prison at Lewes Crown Court yesterday after previously pleading not guilty to manslaughter by gross negligence.

Both he and his company Total Contractor’s Ltd were also found guilty of two offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act regarding failure to properly safeguard against serious injury or death from a fall from height.

Total Contractor’s was fined £190,000 and ordered to pay £30,000 costs and a £170 victim surcharge.

Wenham was also disqualified from being a company director for ten years.

John Spiller, 52, of Portslade, was jailed for 15 months after being found not guilty of manslaughter, but guilty of the same two health and safety offences as Wenham.

His roofing company, Southern Asphalt Ltd, also pleaded guilty to the same offence.

The company was fined £190,000 and ordered to pay costs of £20,000 and a victim surcharge of £170.

The sentences follow the tragic death of 60-year-old Graham Tester at a building site in Brunswick Street West, Hove, on Friday, July 27, 2018.

Graham had been subcontracted as a roofer by Southern Asphalt Ltd.

He fell two storeys from a ladder that had been secured with only two nails hammered into a timber frame on either side.

An inspection from the HSE found multiple safety failings, including no scaffolding or barriers to protect those working at height.

Detective Inspector James Meanwell said: “The severity of these custodial sentences demonstrate the seriousness of employers failing in their duty of care to their employees.

“Graham Tester’s death was an avoidable tragedy that has had a devastating impact on his family and friends.

“These sentences should serve as a warning to all employers that you are responsible for the safety of your employees and will face the consequences of a failure to adhere to those responsibilities.”