Father on trial over son’s death in roofing accident

Eastbourne Hastings Bexhill Rye Battle Herald Observer
Eastbourne Hastings Bexhill Rye Battle Herald Observer

A football fan who was helping his father fix a roof, to pay him back for his season ticket, fell to his death, a court has heard.

Roofing contractor Tony Broadbent has gone on trial charged with his son Kyle’s manslaughter. The prosecution claim the father was grossly negligent in his safety procedures.

Mr Broadbent, 61, from High Street, Harrold, denies the charge and also pleads not guilty to failing to discharge his duty as an employer.

Kyle was 25 when he died on August 18, 2012 at a warehouse in Newport Pagnell owned by Acctim Ltd. He occasionally helped his father out but was not a trained roofing contractor.

Prosecutor Iain Wicks told the jury at Luton Crown Court on Monday: “This case concerns what can only be called a tragic death, which came about as a result of an accident at work when he fell from a height.”

He said Broadbent Roofing was a one man business that the father had been running for 30 years, having inherited it from his father.

He had won a contract to replace old skylights on the warehouse roof, and had done some work during the week but wanted to work over the weekend to make the most of the good weather.

That meant no one else was working at the site on the Saturday morning when the tragedy occurred.

Mr Wicks said: “Only the defendant can account for what happened that day. He told police that Kyle was helping him in order to repay the cost of a football season ticket.

“They were both on the roof and he saw Kyle walking towards him and realised in a split second what was about to happen. He called to him to stop but it was too late.

“He had stepped on to one of the brittle skylights they were replacing, and attempted to grab some metal to save himself but fell to the floor beneath,”

The barrister said he had fallen about seven metres, but the warehouse was locked, and the fire service had to force their way in before the young man, who lived in Milton Keynes, could receive medical attention.

“Sadly the reality is that even without the delay nothing could have been done to save him. He died from multiple injuries.”

Mr Wicks said there were a number of precautions that should have been taken to prevent such a tragedy.

“As a professional Mr Broadbent should have made sure his systems were in line with the requirements laid down by the industry and by law. He owed a duty of care to his son as he would to any employee.

“This is undoubtedly a tragedy for him but the uncomfortable truth is it should have been avoided. If you ask what steps did he take the short answer is none. He showed a wholesale disgregard for health and safety and we say it is grossly negligent.”

The jury were told that among measures that could have been taken were using safety nets under the roof space, wearing a safety harness, and putting barriers around the skylights. There should also have been steps in place to provide urgent assistance to someone in the event of a fall.

The prosecution also allege that Mr Broadbent used risk assessment documents from another contactor, which he had copied and pasted his own company name into.

“We say he paid little more than lip service to health and safety concerns. The documents gave an air of respectability to something that was little more than a one man operation working far below industry standards.

“It is his complacency, lack of care and taking undue risks that cost Kyle Broadbent his life,” said the prosecutor.

The case continues