Dad’s death can serve as a warning to building bosses

Scott Harrower with son Justin Watt
Scott Harrower with son Justin Watt

The legacy of a father-of-two killed in a building site fall may well be the prevention of similar incidents in the future.

Just as Maddiston organ donor Scott Harrower’s death at the age of 42 in 2014 brought hope to others, the punishment served on those responsible for the work-related incident in Stockport which led to his fatal injuries could prove to be a wake-up call to bosses who previously cut corners and did not make workers’ safety a top priority.

Two years ago Scott’s son Justin (21), who did not know his dad was an organ donor, found out his death gave the chance of life to five people, including a small baby.

Earlier this year Justin said the family hoped the court case would bring a sense of closure over their loved one’s untimely death.

When he learned Building and Dismantling Contractors Ltd boss Allan Thomson (49) had been found guilty of negligence manslaughter, he told The Falkirk Herald justice had finally been done.

He said: “I wasn’t at the trial, but mum was and what was said and what happened down there has given us a lot of closure. We’ve been waiting for a long time for some kind of decision on this.

“We weren’t expecting them to both be found guilty so this has made us feel a lot happier. It’s like we finally have justice for my dad and he can finally rest in peace.

“They went through everything in detail, all the health and safety laws. During the trial they said the harnesses my dad and the workers were given were actually made in the 1970s.

“It just showed how they put money before the welfare of my dad and the other workers. I think they should get the jail – that would probably be the right decision in my opinion.”

At Manchester Crown Court last week a prison sentence of six years was handed out to Thomson, of Woodburn Crescent, Bonnybridge. He was also fined £400,000 and told to pay £55,000 court costs.

His co-accused Michael Smith (52), of Rochdale’s C Smith and Sons Ltd, was jailed for eight months, fined £90,000 and ordered to pay £45,000 court costs after being found guilty of offences under Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act and breaching Work at Height Regulations.

At the start of the trial prosecutor Andrew Thomas QC said he would prove to the court the safety equipment provided to Mr Harrower and his colleagues was “worse than useless” and the incident was a “clear case of an employer putting profit before safety”.

The court heard how C Smith and Sons had won a contract to demolish the Harvey’s and Carpetright buildings in Heaton Norris, Stockport in 2014. C Smith and Sons then subcontracted the job of dismantling the roof to Thomson’s company.

At just after 9am on Tuesday, January 21, one of the group – a 47-year-old man also from the Falkirk area – fell through a skylight to the concrete floor below, fracturing his spine, pelvis, right leg, heel and wrist.

Ambulance and police attended, but the incident was deemed to be an accident and, once advice was passed regarding the company’s obligations to inform the Health and Safety Executive, officers left the scene.

Despite their colleague suffering horrific injuries, the men were ordered to return to the roof just hours later and at 4pm Scott Harrower fell through a skylight to the concrete below from a height of 25 feet.

He suffered catastrophic head injuries and died in hospital a day later.