Mike Holland and foreman guilty of manslaughter

Posted On 08 Jun 2017 at 3:50 pm

Two men have been convicted of the manslaughter of a carpenter, who fell to his death on a building site in Brighton.


David Clark sustained serious head injuries when he fell through a first floor void while working on Stanmer Park Stables in September 2014 and died later in hospital.

Michael Holland, the owner and sole director of Cherrywood Investments Ltd., and Grant Oakes, the site foreman, were both found guilty of manslaughter due to gross negligence following a trial at Lewes Crown Court. The two individuals, along with the company, were also convicted of health and safety offences.

The building site where the fall happened

Christmas recycling

The court heard that work on the site had previously been stopped following an inspection by the Health and Safety Executive in September 2013, after they found extremely poor standards in relation to working at height. They noted numerous openings in the first floor, through which anyone working there could fall several metres. They also found inadequate health and safety training had been undertaken.

Following this, Mr. Oakes attended training, including some specifically related to ensuring the safety of those working at height. However, despite this and additional advice from the Health and Safety Executive, standards subsequently deteriorated at the site, leading to Mr. Clark’s fall.

Scaffolding at the site

Gail Purdy from the CPS said: “This has been a complex case to bring to court. In addition to the manslaughter charges, careful consideration had to be given to additional charges under health and safety legislation. To do this, we had to prove there had been a total failure by the individuals and the company to undertake their responsibilities for the safety of their employees on site.

“From the evidence gathered, it became clear both men visited the site regularly and would have seen the conditions, which included work being carried out with voids that someone could fall through, but they did nothing to prevent this happening.

“Mr. Holland completely failed to grasp his personal responsibilities and even went as far as to blame the victim for his own death, despite having previously been advised by the Health and Safety Executive of the measures that needed to be taken on site.”

Holland,69, was convicted of gross negligence manslaughter and consenting or conniving in the failure of the company to discharge its duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act

Oakes, 46, was convicted of gross negligence manslaughter and failing to discharge a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Cherrywood Investments Ltd. were convicted of failure to discharge a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

  1. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    When will Sentence be passed?

    • G Cosham Reply

      I HEAR ITS SEPTEMBER rumour control says 3-5yrs and 1.5 mill fine

  2. D.Metcalfe Reply

    Disgrace how Mr Holland blamed the victim (Mr Clark) for he’s own death, you are Director of this firm, and are 100 % liable for the safety of your workers. You owe massive apologies to Mr Clark’s family, and should be fined heavily and the money awarded directly to the victim’s family, also you will have to wait for what ever sentence is handed down to you both, and hoping that you are not going to get away with a slap on the wrist.

    • me Reply

      as a tradesman myself and as awfull as it sounds it takes 2 too tango. it is also up to the worker to use commonsense an not put themselves at risk also. once i saw a floor covered in water with power leads running through it an everyone was working, walking an cutting materials in the massive puddle. i freaked an chose not to bring my delivery in through that, baffled at people not caring an walking through. it is also up to the person definitely. sorry to say.

  3. Red Reply

    Yep everyone on a site is responsible but H&S law is there to protect the stupid from themselves and that responsibility rests with the management of the site. They have the authority to stop the work.

  4. bemused Reply

    Mr Holland is a major shareholder in Facelift Access hire, A company that rents equipment for working safely at height, Facelift always like to name and shame people and companies that flout health and safety laws on their Twitter page but i guess this one will get overlooked, He should be ashamed that a man lost his life so his company could earn more money. It does take two to tango but after repeated warnings Mr Holland still chose not to do anything to safeguard workers on his site, He should be held responsible for Mr Clarks death.

  5. Redeemer Reply

    It was Holland’s responsibility to have someone on site to continually monitor and risk assess hazards as they evolve. The fact that the HSE issued a prohibition order, that the foreman went on a course and failed it, the fact that Holland left Oakes in charge on the site afterwards is his failure of duty to all of the workers on site. Workers will take risky short cuts if left to themselves as in this tragic instance.
    In adversity, someone is always worse off than yourself and maybe Holland should think a bit about Dave Clark when or if he is sent to prison.
    RIP Dave Clark

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