England

Fisherman's Friends gig deaths accused 'casual over safety'

Trevor Grills and Paul McMullen. Pic: BBC/McMullen Family Image copyright BBC/McMullen Family
Image caption Trevor Grills (left) and Paul McMullen died after being hit by a falling steel door

A man accused of causing the deaths of a shanty group singer and the band's promoter had a "casual approach to safety", Guildford Crown Court heard.

Fisherman's Friends vocalist Trevor Grills, 54, and Paul McMullen, 44, died after a steel door collapsed at G Live in Guildford on 9 February 2013.

David Naylor, 57, director of Express Hi-Fold Doors Ltd, denies two charges of manslaughter by gross negligence.

The company denies a third charge of a breach of health and safety laws.

Mr Grills, from Port Isaac, Cornwall, and Mr McMullen, from Disley in Cheshire, were at the G Live venue ahead of a performance due to be staged by the 10-piece group.

They were unloading music equipment from their van when the door, designed and manufactured by Express Hi-Fold Doors Ltd, fell on them.

Image copyright PA
Image caption David Naylor denies two charges of manslaughter by gross negligence

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On the opening day of the trial, the jury was told doors manufactured by Mr Naylor's company had failed before.

It heard the door measured 12m (40ft) wide by 6.6m (22ft) high and weighed more than two tonnes.

The court was told Mr Naylor, of Stourbridge Road, Bridgnorth, had known there was a serious risk of such a door falling as, before the deaths of Mr Grills and Mr McMullen, a number of his doors had fallen although no-one had been killed.

Zoe Johnson QC said: "The prosecution alleges that the failure to have an anti-drop safeguard coupled with other evidence of earlier door collapses and this defendant's rather casual approach to safety means that his conduct is so bad as to amount to the offence of gross negligence manslaughter."

Image copyright David Dixon
Image caption Fisherman's Friends had been due to perform at the Guildford venue

She told the court that the door collapsed "because two drive chains, linking the motor and gearbox to a drive shaft, failed and the failure of the drive chains disconnected the motor from the drive shaft".

The chains failed after a "misalignment of the drive sprockets" had caused wear over time, she added.

The jury heard that Mr McMullen, who grew up in Heanor, Derbyshire, died at the scene after being crushed under the bi-fold door and suffering severe injuries to his pelvis and legs.

Mr Grills was "struck to the head", suffering life-threatening injuries. He died in hospital on 12 February.

"This was an avoidable tragedy," the prosecutor said.

The trial continues.

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