Directors found guilty after five workers were crushed by a wall

Two directors of a Birmingham recycling firm have been found guilty of health and safety breaches after five men died following the collapse of a wall.

Almamo Jammeh, Ousmane Diaby, Bangally Dukureh, Saibo Sillah and Mahamadou Jagana were crushed to death after the 45-tonne wall was pushed over by 263-tonnes of stored metal in July 2016 at Hawkeswood Metal Recycling.

Wayne Hawkeswood, director of Hawkeswood Metal Recycling, and Graham Woodhouse, director of Ensco 10101 were prosecuted alongside their companies at Birmingham Crown Court by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The defendants and companies were found guilty by a jury of all 12 counts under the Health and Safety at Work Act after a six-week trial.

The five victims were all agency workers of African heritage.

In a statement, the families of the victims said the trial had exposed the “scandalous, inexcusable and gross failings” of the defendants.

“The trial examined the largest loss of life in a single incident at a recycling plant in the United Kingdom.

“Our loved ones were hard-working and family-oriented people. They worked for little money in dangerous workplaces because they wanted to make a better life for their wives and children.

“This was a workplace where human life and workers’ rights were completely and repeatedly disregarded.”

Families of the victims were critical of the lengthy investigation by the HSE, which said the pandemic disrupted the case.

Amy Kalay, principal inspector for the Health and Safety Executive told the BBC that the investigation had been “fully resourced” from day one but accepted it had taken a long time.

Despite that, she said it “was right and proper that we followed those lines of inquiry to make sure that those responsible for the failings at the site were held accountable”.

Kalay said the men “lost their lives in the most appalling of circumstances.

“We have heard over the course of the trial that their deaths could have been prevented had the companies and individuals responsible for the site taken steps to manage health and safety risks.

“I hope the families and friends of the men who died find some comfort in today’s verdict and see that justice has now been served.”

The defendants will be sentenced in the new year.

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