PSNI fined £30,000 for safety negligence

Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde's office has been fined £30,000 after a 28-year-old man was crushed to death by the gates of a Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) station.

Ciaran Connolly, from Castlegrange, died after being crushed by heavy mechanical gates at Strabane station on St Patrick's Day 2003 as he tried to leave the grounds.

Claims were brought against the Office of the Chief Constable by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for "failing to take reasonable care of visitors" to the police station.

At the court, prosecuting QC Gordon Kerr said a sensor mechanism, which should have prevented the gates from closing, was broken.

Omagh Crown Court judge Mr Justice Hart said that while he acknowledged that the PSNI had taken steps to address the faulty gates, it "should have ensured that more rigorous investigations by the appropriate person or persons should have been carried out to ensure that the sub-contractors had, in fact, remedied this problem".

He concluded: "As in any case where there is a fatality and the penalty which can be imposed is a fine, the fine must properly represent the degree of culpability of the defendant and the failure on the part of the defendant that gave rise to the circumstances which resulted in someone's death."

This case should ensure that public offices take more care over health and safety in future, meaning solicitors should have to deal with less of these unfortunate cases.

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