Birmingham & Black Country

Firm admits safety failures after Storm Doris death

Tahnie Martin Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Tahnie Martin was killed when a loose panel fell off a shopping centre roof during Storm Doris

A company has admitted breaching health and safety laws after a woman was killed by a tank cover falling from a shopping centre during Storm Doris.

Tahnie Martin, 29, from Stafford, was hit by the rotten wooden panel outside Wolverhampton's Mander Shopping Centre in February 2017.

An inquest found the panel may not have been maintained for almost 20 years.

Cushman Wakefield Debenham Tie Leung Ltd - which managed the centre at the time - is facing a substantial fine.

The company pleaded guilty to an offence contrary to the Health and Safety at Work Act at Wolverhampton Magistrates' Court after the city council pursued legal action.

Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Ms Martin, pictured with her mother, had recently got engaged when she was killed

Ms Martin, who worked at the University of Wolverhampton, had recently got engaged when she was killed on 23 February.

She suffered serious head injuries and died at the scene.

Her fiancé Shaun Lee previously said they were planning a family and "she had so much to live for".

After the hearing, Richard Phillips, from City of Wolverhampton Council, flanked by Ms Martin's parents Jim and Rosie, described her as "a popular, beautiful and ambitious young woman".

Image caption Ms Martin's parents, Jim and Rosie, attended the hearing at Wolverhampton Magistrates Court

Ms Martin's death "simply should not have happened," Mr Phillips said.

"Had the defendant fulfilled its legal duty... she would still be here with her family."

The wooden panel came from the lid of a redundant water tank and fell six storeys from the roof of the shopping centre on to Dudley Street as winds of up to 94mph were recorded.

Image caption Ms Martin was killed by the panel as she walked past a coffee shop in the city centre

An inquest into her death found three clasps attached to the tank were "rotten and weather-damaged" and the panel "became detached from the plant room roof of the building due to strong winds, caused by Storm Doris".

Jurors heard it was "blown around like a piece of paper" when it fell from the building.

Colin Wilson, chief executive of Cushman Wakefield Debenham Tie Leung Ltd, said the company "very much regret" Ms Martin's death and that it had "learnt lessons".

The firm will be sentenced next month.

Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone.

Related Topics

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites