Birmingham & Black Country

Storm Doris death: Firm fined £1.3m over falling debris

Tahnie Martin Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Tahnie Martin died at the scene

A company has been fined £1.3m after a woman was killed by a water tank cover which blew off from a roof.

Tahnie Martin was hit by the wooden panel outside the Mander Shopping Centre in Wolverhampton in 2017.

It was ripped away in strong winds from a plant room on top of the roof, which may not have been maintained for nearly two decades, her inquest found.

Cushman Wakefield Debenham Tie Leung Ltd has already admitted breaching of health and safety laws.

The company, which was fined at Wolverhampton Crown Court, was the managing agent responsible for centre maintenance at the time of Ms Martin's death in February 2017.

Ms Martin, who was from Stafford and worked at the University of Wolverhampton, suffered serious head injuries and died at the scene.

Image caption An inquest into her death found three clasps attached to the tank were "rotten and weather-damaged"

She had become engaged shortly before she died, and her fiancé, Shaun Lee, previously said they were planning a family and "she had so much to live for".

The panel was blown from the lid of a redundant water tank as winds of up to 94mph were recorded during Storm Doris.

Speaking after the sentencing, Tahnie's mother, Rosie Martin, said her daughter's death was not a "random accident".

Image caption Tahnie's mother spoke after the hearing about losing her daughter

"It was preventable and it happened because a roof up above Wolverhampton's busiest shopping centre was left to rot and rust," she said.

"It was not just our clever, talented Tahnie who lost her life that day. We don't have any life now. No future. Tahnie was our future."

Cushman Wakefield Debenham Tie Leung Ltd previously pleaded guilty to an offence contrary to the Health and Safety at Work Act after the city council pursued legal action.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said it had updated elements of its professional guidance since Black Country Coroner Zafar Siddique wrote to the body in 2018 to express concerns about a "prevention of future deaths" in relation to public buildings.

The organisation said it had taken the coroner's comments on board was also developing new mandatory requirements around planned preventative maintenance.

"Where we believe professional conduct of regulated firms or individuals has failed to meet the standards expected of them, we take disciplinary action through an independent process," a spokesman said.

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