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James Leonard, leading Oliver Powell, secure halftime acquittals in gross negligence manslaughter case 

James Leonard and Oliver Powell, instructed by Chris Baranowski of DAC Beachcroft, appeared on behalf of Mr Gary Robinson, the former director of Complete Demolition Ltd, at the Central Criminal Crown Court. Mr Robinson was indicted on two counts: (1) gross negligence manslaughter; and (2) section 37 of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (‘HSWA 1974’).

Background: On 23 August 2018 Robert Stoian went to work as a labourer for Complete Demolition Ltd (‘the Company’). The Company been contracted to remove the internal fittings on the fifth floor of the Global Switch Building in Docklands, East London. This included; the studded partition walls, the suspended ceiling and raised floor.  Embedded in one of the partition walls was a glazed unit which was 5.1m wide, 1.7m high and weighed over half a tonne (660kg). Tragically, the glazed unit collapsed on top of Mr Stoian. As a result, he suffered an catastrophic fatal head injury.

The case: Broadly distilled, it was the Crown’s case that Gary Robinson was grossly negligent in the exercise of his duty of care and that he: failed to adequately assess the risks involved in the work; failed to adequately plan the soft-strip demolition project; and was negligent in his monitoring of the work.

Submission of no case to answer: After the Crown closed its case, James and Oliver made a submission of no case to answer. After hearing detailed oral submissions, supported by a skeleton argument running to some 35-pages, Murray J ruled that there was no case to answer against Mr Robinson on either count. He accordingly directed the jury to enter not guilty verdicts in respect of both counts.

Find out more

James Leonard specialises in Health, Safety & Environmental Law. He is ranked in the Chambers & Partners (Star Individual) and Legal 500 (Tier 1) for Health & Safety. His Health & Safety work invariably include fatalities in the work place, allegations of gross negligence manslaughter and offences under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007. He represents nationally known companies (including Comet Group PLC, Sainsbury Group, Dyfed Steels Ltd, RWE Npower PLC, Western Power Distribution PLC, Virgin Media Group, BOC (UK) Ltd, BFK Joint Venture on the Crossrail project, Babcock DSG Ltd, Barratt Developments PLC, Toppesfield Ltd,  ConocoPhilips (U.K.) Ltd, British Airways PLC, British Car Auctions British Airways PLC, British Car Auctions Ltd and British Land PLC) as well as smaller limited companies and their directors.

To instruct James or find out more, contact Nick Levett +44 (0)20 7427 4908 or Adam Macdonald +44 (0)20 7427 4906  for a confidential discussion.

Oliver Powell‘s legal practice includes Health, Safety & Environment and Marine & Fisheries. Oliver is ranked in the Legal 500 for Health & Safety (Tier 1). He acts for companies and company officers in prosecutions brought by the CPS, HSE, MCA and local authorities. He is routinely involved in matters where there have been fatalities or serious injuries in the workplace. He is currently retained in respect of a number of matters which are being investigated for gross negligence or corporate manslaughter and associated offences under HSWA 1974. In addition to prosecutions and regulatory investigations, Oliver is frequently instructed in coronial inquests and inquiries, most recently appearing for Bombardier in the inquests arising from the 2016 Croydon tram derailment. 

To instruct Oliver or to find out more, contact Sam Carter on +44 (0)203 989 6669 or Colin Bunyan on +44 (0)20 7427 4886 for a confidential discussion.

News 9 May, 2022


James Leonard KC

Call: 1989 Silk: 2023

Oliver Powell

Call: 2006 (England & Wales); 2010 (Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (BVI))

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