Lawyer's crush death under frames 'could have been avoided by obvious steps'

Amanda Telfer death
The death of a lawyer crushed by three window frames weighing more than half a tonne could have been prevented if a series of obvious and straightforward steps had been taken, a court has heard.

Amanda Telfer, 43, was killed when the large unglazed frames fell on her as she walked past a construction site in Hanover Square, central London, at 11.30am on August 30 2012.

The frames, which together weighed 1,444lb (655kg), had been left unprotected and unrestrained leaning against a wall after being delivered the previous day, a jury at the Old Bailey in London was told.

Four people and three companies deny a total of 13 charges over the death of Ms Telfer.

Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC said the frames been delivered even though the site was not yet ready to install them.

He said it was "obvious to anyone" that the heavy frames carried a "clear and serious risk of death", including to those walking past.

Members of the public had noted the frames moved in the wind and were concerned they might fall on to the busy central London thoroughfare, he added.

Mr Atkinson told the court: "There were a series of obvious and, in many cases, straightforward steps that could have been taken to avoid that risk, ranging from cancellation, delay, refusal of delivery on the one hand, to the storage, the use of straps and barriers.

"None were taken by any of the defendants and Amanda Telfer died as a result."

Damian Lakin-Hall, 50, of Portsmouth Road, Cobham, Surrey, Claire Gordon, 36, of Ashby Crescent, Leeds, and 64-year-old Kelvin Adsett - also known as Kelvin Schultz - from New Road, Slough, Berkshire, deny manslaughter and health and safety breaches.

Steven Rogers, 62, of Sheering Mill Lane in Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire, has pleaded not guilty to a single charge of failure to take reasonable care for safety while at work as an employee of Westgreen Construction Limited.

IS Europe of Slough, Westgreen Construction, of Richmond in Surrey, and Drawn Metal Ltd, of Leeds, also deny health and safety charges.

Another member of the public had almost been hit in a "near-miss" at the site just days before the fatal accident, the court heard.

Work was "routinely carried out" on the pavement and equipment was stored there overnight, but there was no external barrier to separate the working area from the public, Mr Atkinson said.

Plywood hoarding, painted with Westgreen Construction Limited's logo, had instead been placed inside the building behind the door and window spaces, he said.

He told the jury: "The incident with which this case is concerned was not the first time that the public was put at risk, as it would appear this was not the first incident of its type involving Westgreen's construction site.

"In the days before the accident, a plywood hoarding had fallen from one of the apertures on the building, almost hitting a member of the public as he made his way home."

Mr Atkinson said the alleged incident raised questions over health and safety at the site.

He told the jury they must consider whether the defendants were aware of what had happened and if this should have caused them to reassess "the sufficiency of the measures being taken to segregate the public from the construction site".

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