Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Firm fined £100,000 over Bert's Bar death fall in Edinburgh

Bert's Bar Image copyright Google
Image caption Alan Brown's body was found in the outside basement area of Bert's bar

A firm has been fined £100,000 over the death of a man who fell into a basement at one of its Edinburgh pubs because a gate was not padlocked.

Off-duty fireman Alan Brown, 46, fell into an outside basement area of Bert's Bar in William Street on 4 April 2014.

At Edinburgh Sheriff Court, Maclay Inns pleaded guilty under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

It admitted failing to ensure staff were aware of the importance of a gate in the railings being padlocked.

The gate was used to allow access to a keg hoist leading to the basement.

Fiscal Depute, Gary Aitken, told Sheriff Kenneth Maciver that Mr Brown, a father-of-two, had been out socialising with friends.

He was making his way home at about 01:35 when he fell into the basement. Mr Aitken said the fall was not witnessed by anyone or on CCTV.

It may have been that Mr Brown had leant against the gate and fallen through, but Mr Aitken said that made no difference as the gate had not been secured by a bolt or padlock.

'Forgotten about'

Investigations had shown the need to secure the gate had been "forgotten about" and from April 2012 it was routine not to lock the gate.

He said this had led to Mr Brown's death.

Advocate Barry Smith said the company wished to record its sincere condolences to the family for the tragic accident.

He said the company had no previous convictions but had gone into administration on 23 January 2015.

Sheriff Maciver said he would not take into account the financial position of the company by imposing a nominal sum.

He added that a financial penalty in a case involving injury or death must not be seen as any sort of measure by the court of the value of a life, nor should it be seen as compensation.

It was to punish a company and deter others.

In this case the breach had not been deliberate or any type of shortcut in work practices.

"Nevertheless" he said "it is a case where there had been, over a number of years, a serious and obviously dangerous omission where the practice of padlocking the gate had been ignored by laziness and inattention. It was an accident waiting to happen."

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