London building firm fined £550,000 after friends fell to their deaths

Stuart Meads and Gavin Brewer Image copyright MET POLICE/ BTP
Image caption Police believe Stuart Meads (left) and Gavin Brewer fell against a wooden barrier

A construction firm has been fined £550,000 after two men fell to their deaths through a roadside hoarding.

PC Gavin Brewer, 32, and his friend Stuart Meads, 34, had been drinking when they got into a fight and fell four metres (13ft) through the building site's perimeter hoarding.

Monavon Construction pleaded guilty to two counts of corporate manslaughter

Judge Paul Worsley QC told the Old Bailey it was an "accident waiting to happen" and "wholly preventable".

The company, based in Bounds Green, also admitted failing to discharge its duty to persons other than employees in breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Image caption Tributes were left to the two friends - Gavin Brewer and Stuart Meads - following their deaths

The Old Bailey heard Mr Brewer and Mr Meads started arguing as they walked by the Hampstead Road - Netley Street junction near Euston, north London on 19 October 2013.

CCTV footage showed them grappling before one pushed the other against the building site perimeter hoarding, which gave way, leading them to topple head first down an uncovered light well.

Both men suffered catastrophic head and neck injuries, the Old Bailey heard.

Oliver Glasgow QC, for the prosecution, said the hoarding was not of sufficient height or strength.

He added about 200 children and parents walked past the building site each day to reach a nearby school.

In mitigation, Jonathan Laidlaw QC said the owners of the small family-run company were "extremely sorry" and in 33 years of trading, had never before been convicted of health and safety breaches.

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