North East Wales

Meg Burgess wall death: Builder George Collier denies manslaughter

A three-year-old girl died when a wall designed by a building company director collapsed on her, a court has heard.

The breeze block wall fell on Meg Burgess her as she walked with her mother in Meliden, Denbighshire, in July 2008.

At Mold Crown Court George Collier, of Kinmel Bay, Conwy, denies manslaughter.

Lindsay Burgess said her daughter had just spoken of baking cakes back home when the wall came down and crushed her. The trial continues.

Mrs Burgess, Meg and her baby brother Wilson were returning home from nearby shops, with Meg just behind her mother on the pathway, when they passed the garden wall in question.

The court heard they had gone to buy sugar so Mrs Burgess could bake for the children.

Mrs Burgess said: "She had a pound pocket money and spent it on some glitter.

"I was walking along and she was trotting behind. She was telling me we were going to make cakes when we got back.

"I turned around to look how beautiful she was and she was about a couple of metres away from me.

"She looked up at me and it (the wall) all just came down. It all came down at one go, it engulfed her. Her head was the only thing not covered. There were broken stones over her body."

She pulled stones off her daughter's body and pulled her clear while three workmen ran to help and called for an ambulance.

Mrs Burgess said on her way to the shop she had noticed an excavator piling soil behind the newly-built boundary wall and "patting" it down. Soil had been coming over the wall and landing on the pavement.

Earlier, the court was told Mr Collier had not taken appropriate advice, and the wall was not built to the correct standard.

Bryan Cox QC, prosecuting, said: "It was his gross negligence which caused Meg's death."

'Pressure and strain'

Mr Bryan told the jury that although Mr Collier, 49, had engaged bricklayers to build the wall, he was responsible for its design and construction.

The court heard that he had not obtained a report from a structural engineer, he added.

Mr Collier, a joint director of Parcol Developments, had personally used an excavator to back fill a large amount of material behind the wall, putting pressure and strain on the wall which had not been built to act as a retaining wall.

The materials were not adequate, metal rods had not been inserted inside the hollow blocks and, crucially, the wall was not anchored to the foundations, the court heard.

There was no sign or barrier present to prevent people walking past the wall.

The court heard that Mr Collier had 30 years experience in the building industry. This was only the second job carried out by the recently established company.