KJ Pickering fined over Mark White 6,350-volt shock death

Mark White Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Mark White had a daughter, a son and two step-children

"Shortcuts were taken" by a building firm fined £102,400 after a 6,350-volt shock killed one of its workers.

Mark White, 47, was electrocuted when a metal rake he was holding came into contact with overhead power lines in Ashton, Northamptonshire, in 2016.

The Health and Safety Executive said KJ Pickering failed to prevent the risks posed by the power lines.

It admitted two offences at Northampton Crown Court.

The court heard Mr White was carrying out groundwork on stables at the home of the company's owner Kevin Pickering, on Roade Hill, where the firm is also based.

Mr White was described as an "experienced ground worker" and had been with the company for almost seven years.

Tim Green, prosecuting, said that because Mr Pickering was both the client and contractor there had been a "degree of informality" about the work.

He said the danger from the overhead power lines "was obvious" but "ignored" and "shortcuts were taken" with no risk assessment carried out.

Western Power Distribution, which owned the power lines, was not contacted and said it could have disconnected the lines.

'Dedicated family man'

On 9 January, with the work almost finished, a rake attached to an extendable metal pole being held by Mr White came into contact with power lines about six metres (20ft) overhead.

They were carrying a total of 11,000 volts and the court heard 6,350 volts passed through Mr White.

Colleagues heard a "loud bang" and in Mr White's last moments of consciousness, he told them not to touch him so they did not also get electrocuted. He died at the scene.

The court heard Mr White had earlier pointed out dangers to other workers of exposed power lines, photos of which were shown in court.

In a statement read to the court, his partner Tracy Spiers said she had "struggled" to come to terms with his death.

Mr Pickering apologised through his barrister to Mr White's family and the court also heard the stables had remained unused since his death.

Judge Adrienne Lucking QC described Mr White as a "dedicated family man" and said his death was "avoidable".

KJ Pickering was also ordered to pay costs of £65,000.

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