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Building contractor jailed over death of worker who fell from roof

Suspended sentence following employee's 2015 death was 'unduly lenient'

A County Armagh building contractor who admitted a charge of manslaughter after the death of a worker in a fall has had his sentence increased.

The Court of Appeal ruled today (Thursday), that a suspended prison term imposed on Norman McKenzie in March was unduly lenient.

The defendant has now been given a two-year prison sentence.

It was in January 2015 that Petyo Hristanov died after falling from a farm shed under construction in Portadown.

His employer was sentenced in relation to health and safety failings that led to the death and caused injury to another worker.

The Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland considered the earlier sentence, a 15-month custodial sentence suspended for three years and a fine of £3,000, handed down at Craigavon Crown Court on 10 March, to be unduly lenient, and the case was referred to the Court of Appeal for review of the sentence.

The DPP presented the case to the Court of Appeal, on the grounds that the sentence handed down fell outside the range of sentences which the judge, applying all relevant factors, should reasonably have considered appropriate.

The Court of Appeal subsequently issued its judgement , today, and directed that McKenzie be given a 24-month custodial sentence on the count of manslaughter.

He will serve 12 months in prison and 12 months on licence.

In addition the court imposed sentences of six months imprisonment on each of the counts relating to Health and Safety offences to run concurrently with the two year prison sentence.

The fines previously imposed were removed.

HSENI, who led the investigation along with PSNI, welcomed the Court of Appeal decision and said it was act as a deterrent to others.

A spokesperson said: “The case relates to the building of a 3-bay farm shed at Derrycarne Road and brings into clear focus important issues for those who work in both the farming and construction industries.  Any farmer who engages the services of a builder must ensure this work is carried out safely and to proper health and safety guidelines. A builder must assess the risks associated with the job and put preventative measures in place.

“As this case highlights, failure to do so can result in a needless loss of life and strict sentences.”

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