Brighton and Hove businessman Mike Holland jailed for manslaughter
A Brighton and Hove property developer Mike Holland and his foreman Grant Oakes have been jailed for nine months each for manslaughter.
The pair were sentenced this afternoon (Friday 15 September) for the death of carpenter David Clark who fell 15ft through a gap in the first floor of a building that was being refurbished.
They were jailed by Judge Christine Laing at Hove Crown, having been found guilty of manslaughter due to gross negligence by a jury in June after a three-week trial at Lewes Crown Court.
At the start of the trial Holland and his company Cherrywood Investments admitted breaking health and safety laws. Oakes pleaded not guilty but was convicted by the jury.
Holland, 70, of King’s Road, Brighton, was ordered to pay £35,000 costs and Oakes, 46, of Elm Drive, Hove, must pay £10,000.
Mr Clark, 55, of Dyke Road Avenue, Hove, died after suffering head injuries in the fall at the Stanmer Park Stables three years ago.
This morning the judge heard Mr Clark’s partner Beverley read a victim impact statement before listening to mitigation, including details of Holland’s generosity and charity work over many years.
Mrs Clark told the court how she kept a bedside vigil in the days after Mr Clark fell in September 2014 until he died four weeks later – and the agony of letting him go.
She said: “Having to watch this big funny clever man shrivel in his bed and not even being able to drink from a cup was heart-breaking.
“Almost 1,000 mourners eventually attended his funeral, such was his popularity.
“The impact of his death has been felt right across the community, let alone among friends and family.
“Two days before he passed, Dave asked me to marry him. From the worst possible circumstances came a glimmer of joy.
“He had proposed to me and I could not wait to be this man’s wife. Two days later, all our dreams and future plans were cruelly ripped from us both.
“Standing at the end of that hospital bed as he died, watching the clock every time the hospital staff tried to resuscitate him to see if he could breathe on his own is a memory I would not wish on my worst enemy.
“I constantly have nightmares about the accident. I have been taking anti-depressants and sleeping tablets for over two years now, after finally admitting that I needed help and going to my GP.
“I had to leave our joint home in Hove as I was unable to afford this on my own.”
Mrs Clark told how her bedside vigil and her desire to attend coroner’s and criminal court proceedings had cost her her livelihood. She said: “Everything has had a great financial impact on my life as well as emotional.
“My outlook on life has changed drastically and, in truth, if I could go to bed tonight and not wake up tomorrow, I would be happier than living the life I a left with.
“I somehow feel like I let Dave down.
“These two men had a duty of care to a man that worked for them. That man was my fiancé. That man went to work one morning and never came home again as a result of an accident that should never have occurred.”
“Dave was not just a name, not just a statistic – like I feel he has been portrayed in this case. He was real. He was my partner – my love, my rock. He was a loving and devoted grandad. He was a caring and supportive father. He was a true friend to so many people and always put others concerns and needs before his own.
“Dave died too soon in what I feel were totally unnecessary and unfair circumstances. His loss will be felt forever.”
Detective Inspector Mick Jones, from Sussex Police, said: “Dave Clark went to work that fateful morning in 2014 and his partner Beverley had every right to expect him to return.
“However, the unsafe conditions on that building site on which numerous men were working, particularly those working at height, meant that it wasn’t to be.
“I hope that these convictions send a strong message to those within the construction industry that the safety of those working on sites should be of paramount importance.
“Where this is not the case, the Health and Safety Executive and police will tenaciously pursue them and bring them to justice.
“People often blame health and safety for stopping people doing everyday things but the whole reason is to prevent serious injury and death like the tragic death of Dave Clark.
“I hope this sends the message that there are real consequences of a blatant disregard for the wellbeing of their workers.”
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I. Think. Some. One. Has. Done. Mr. Holland. A. Good. Turn. I. Got. 2year. For. Fraud. How. He. U. Got. Away with. This it. Beats. Me. If. He. Was. A. Police. Man. U. Could. Understand. It
If he were a policeman, he probably wouldn’t be rich enough to renovate million-pound properties, would he?
Needless to say, in all this, paramount is a man who should be alive this Friday evening rather than victim of – how can I put this? – a sharpster.
When the sharpster Mike Holland took over the formerly interesting Insight magazine, he turned it into a dreary thing to promote his crane-hire business. The magazine duly collapsed. And later, when the Brighton and Hove Independent began, it – bizarrely – sought a weekly column by him which made Basil Fawlty seem like Diderot: the upshot of Holland’s saloon-bar rant week after week was that the running of Hove and Brighton should be put in the hands of such, er, self-styled “business leaders” as, er, himself.
As today’s events have shown, local government – for all its problems – has to be a matter for people themselves.
Not delegated to a man who, when he “ran” Insight, included numerous photographs of himself at local gatherings. I doubt he will again be on the lists of those invited to hold out their glass for a refill.
What will become of the long-delayed Engineerium? When this came up for Planning in 2011, I expressed doubts as part of the Committee. I could not say so, but I think my sub-text was clear: Mr Holland is “well dodgy”, and I would be surprised it it ever came to be.
Meanwhile, as I said at the start of this note, the crucial thing is all sympathies must be with those who knew and loved a builder who plunged to his death in those unimaginably prolonged split-seconds.
Very well said Chris hawtree
Mike Holland famously arrived in Brighton with just £5 to his name before building up a fortune and gaining a hero’s reputation for, first, rescuing Newlands School by buying it….but he did not keep it. He also restored and renovated Stanmer House…..but he did not keep it going….moved on to the Stables behind. Most famously, he rescued The Engineerium just a day before all was to go under the hammer. He presumably still owns it….but what happened there? It is a bookable space, with occasional open days few know about.
And then there is the broken marriage story. He was on Sussex Radio once with his disabled son (after he left his wife). He cajoled but the boy was truculent and perhaps unbendingly resentful of the breakup. Who knows. Embarrassing radio.
Mike Holland needs to think long and hard over the next few months about how he went from that £5 to a prison cell and what his wealth is really all about. Why was he OK with the methods and practices he is now vilified for?
Perhaps what he did is more common than we know. And only luck prevents more deaths. It would be interesting to know.
My heart goes out to Dave Clark’s partner and her wrecked life as she now finds her way forward. Mike Holland surely owes her compensation.
‘The boy’…’his disabled son’… ‘truculent’…’unbendingly resentful’…how extraordinarily patronising your wording is.
Please ‘think long and hard’ about how you word your frequent and self righteous comments.
Exactly, Ms Painter should not have mentioned Holland’s family, as she obviously does not know them.
Whatever happened to Nicholas van Hoogstraten…?
He has long since stopped work on the buildings on #Hove’s The Drive.
Mike Holland is a nice respect able gent. The ordeal was an accident and nobody has the right to judge Mike Holland. His family must be devastated and he has been punished and fined so surely has the right to move on now. We all make mistakes in life and I hope Mike is able to continue to succeed when he leaves prison.