Suspended prison term ‘too lenient’

Court

Court

The decision not to imprison a building contractor for the manslaughter of a worker who fell from a slippery roof was unduly lenient, the director of public prosecutions argued yesterday.

Barra McGrory QC told the Court of Appeal it had been wrong to suspended Norman McKenzie’s sentence following the death of Petyo Hristanov,. 57, in January 2015.

Mr Hristanov, a father of two, was fatally injured when he and a workmate fell from a partially constructed farm shed on Portadown’s Derrycarne Road.

The accident occurred in rainy conditions where no scaffolding, safety nets or harnesses had been provided.

McKenzie, 48, from Drumgose Road in Dungannon, pleaded guilty to manslaughter by gross negligence.

He received a 15-month sentence, suspended for three years, and was fined £3,000.

Senior judges heard he has shown extreme remorse for the death of a worker regarded more like a family member.

But the director insisted the term handed down was too lenient. The contractor had failed to heed weather warnings from his workers on the day of the accident, Mr McGrory pointed out.

McKenzie’s defence counsel described him as “a broken man”.

Lord Justice Gillen insisted that company representatives could face jail in similar cases.

“The law moves on, the need to protect workmen is now more obvious to us all,” he said.

Reserving judgment, the judge pledged to give a decision within weeks.

McKenzie was released on continuing bail.