Caravan park company admits corporate manslaughter

Alan Milne leaves Newry Crown Court after Thursday's hearing
Alan Milne leaves Newry Crown Court after Thursday's hearing

The managing director of a caravan park has admitted causing the death of an employee through a “gross breach” of its duty of care.

Standing at the back of Newry Crown Court on behalf of Nicole Enterprises, Co Armagh businessman 54-year-old Alan Milne pleaded guilty to charges of corporate manslaughter and breaching health and safety regulations on February 22 2012 in that there was a failure to “ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees”.

Milne, from the Armagh Road in Newry, appeared both as an individual and as the representative of Nicole Enterprises and another co-accused company, Dieci Ltd.

As a specific defendant, Milne denied a charge of manslaughter in relation to the death of Thomas Houston, and as managing director of Dieci Ltd, pleaded not guilty to a count of corporate manslaughter and a further charge of breaching health and safety regulations by failing to properly assess risks posed to employees.

Thomas Houston was crushed when a static caravan fell on him at Silvercove Caravan Park near Kilkeel in February 2012.

The charges arose after Mr Houston, a married grandfather and father-of-three who was in his 50s, was crushed to death when a caravan he was working on fell on top of him at the caravan park on the Leestone Road in Kilkeel.

Following the mixed pleas, prosecuting QC Liam McCollum told the court there were now matters for the Crown to consider but added that “in all likelihood a trial will not be necessary” and asked for the case to be relisted on March 23 for an update.

With Mr Houston’s wife and family sitting in the public gallery, Judge Kevin Finnegan QC passed on his condolences, telling the family it was “particularly sad to see the demise of what was clearly a good husband and father and a very, very hard-working man – words will not console you”.

As defence QC Gregory Berry had no contrary submissions, Deputy District Judge Jonathan Connolly said he was satisfied there was enough evidence before the court to move the cases to the Crown Court for trial.

Releasing Milne on his own bail of £500, the judge ordered him to appear at Newry Crown Court next month for arraignment.