Double tragedy company fined £100,000

A SUFFOLK company has been fined £100,000 after it admitted breaching health and safety regulations which led to the death of two of its employees.Brian Dove , 55, from Butt Lane, Burgh Castle, near Yarmouth, and his stepson Charlie Buckenham , 52, of Hardy Close, Lowestoft, died while inspecting a disused fuel tank while working for Small and Co in March 2003.

A SUFFOLK company has been fined £100,000 after it admitted breaching health and safety regulations which led to the death of two of its employees.

Brian Dove , 55, from Butt Lane, Burgh Castle, near Yarmouth, and his stepson Charlie Buckenham , 52, of Hardy Close, Lowestoft, died while inspecting a disused fuel tank while working for Small and Co in March 2003.

The pair were found dead in the tank on the shore of Lake Lothing by emergency services after a seven-hour rescue operation.

Yesterday Small and Co Marine Engineering, of Commercial Road, Lowestoft, was fined £100,000 at Ipswich Crown Court. It was also ordered to pay costs of £29,450 after admitting failing to ensure the health and safety of its employees.

Civil engineers, Edmund Nuttall Ltd, which owned the tank, were fined £25,000 and ordered to pay £29,450 costs after admitting to failing to ensure the health and safety of people not in their employment.

The charges followed an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

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During the hearing the court heard how the men were inspecting the tanks to give Edmund Nuttall, which has its headquarters in Surrey, a quote before removal.

It is believed that Mr Buckenham clambered through an inspection hatch in an attempt to rescue his stepfather, who had gone into the tank, but had not come out. It is believed Mr Dove went into the tank to save him, but both men died due to lack of oxygen.

Sentencing the companies Judge John Holt said that because the ballast tanks had not been opened for years the rusting process had robbed the air of oxygen meaning that any individual that entered would lose consciousness within seconds.

Speaking after the sentencing Clayton Buckenham, Charlie's brother, said that the family was happy with the outcome.

"We're pleased that both companies have pleaded guilty but whatever happened we knew that they could never bring my brother and step-dad back.

"Money has never had anything to do with this. We just hope no other family goes through what we have been through.

"The important thing is that the companies admitted that they were responsible for two people's lives. That's what we were after.

"We would just like to say a big thank you to the health and safety officers for the last few years because they really helped us through a hard time."

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