30 January 2012 ( Back to news releases)
Bradford Court finds J.N. Bentley guilty of breaching health and safety regulations
A representative of FACK was in court on Friday 27th to see Steven’s family vindicated in their fight to show he was not responsible for his own death, to see his employer held accountable for breaking the law and failing to do all that was reasonably practicable, which the judge ruled, caused his death.
FACK has supported Judith from the beginning, through the HSE investigation, the Inquest, and argued strongly for a prosecution as Steven’s death was reasonably foreseeable and therefore should have been avoided. Judith Allen, Steven’s mother, and his whole family, gained some justice from hearing the judge, Julian Smith, Recorder, confirm their feelings all along that J.N. Bentley of Skipton, used the wrong equipment for the job, had no risk assessment, no method statement or lifting plan, failed to supervise the lift, and this was a significant cause of Steven’s death.
The judge rejected the defendant’s arguments that it was Steven who was the architect of his own fate and fined the company £106,250 plus £90,000 costs. He only awarded a 15 per cent discount for pleading guilty early, as J.N. Bentley only pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act, for failing to ensure the health and safety of its employees, but refused to agree with the HSE that this breach caused Steven’s death, necessitating the holding of this Newton Hearing.
Judith Allen, Steven’s mother, who has fought tirelessly to find out why her son was killed, and to ensure that those responsible are held to account says:
“It has taken almost 5 years to get some kind of justice for what happened to Steven. By searching myself and with help of Families Against Corporate Killers and the Centre for Corporate Accountability, I gained an insight into what actually happened, and have argued all along that the wrong use of the block grab, and poor systems of work, led directly to Steven’s death.
" I have been vindicated by this judgement that the risk were foreseeable, should have been prevented and that Steven was not to blame for his own death which his employer persistently claimed. This claim caused us a lot of pain and anguish. We still have to live without Steven and our lives are blighted forever. The only consolation will be if it stops something like this happening again on another construction site to another mother’s son, and if it makes workers and the public far more aware than I was before Steven died, of the risks employers take with workers’ lives in trying to save money.”
Judith added: "I must make it clear that the £106,250 is a fine for J.N Bentley's criminal act, payable to the government, part of the criminal justice system not civil compensation, and the costs go to the HSE. Steven's family has received no compensation as Steven had no dependents."
FACK spokesperson said: “The judgement by Julian Smith Recorder, leaves no doubt that Steven’s employer’s law breaking caused his death, and utterly rejected the defence attempts to put the blame on to him. This was very important for Steven’s mother and family to hear in court, and vindicates their almost 5 year fight for justice. One cannot help thinking it would have been far easier on the family had J.N. Bentley made a full admission of guilt earlier, and made no attempt to blame Steven.
"This would have avoided the long drawn out legal proceedings which has put the whole family under immense and almost unbearable stress. Nothing can bring back Steven, a sorely missed young man of great potential, whose family have to live the life sentence without him. But it is essential that other construction workers are protected from such needless risk of death or injury, that all construction employers note the judgement and take action to ensure they use the right equipment and plan safe lifting operations on site.”
For more information contact Judith Allen Mobile 07949 669 229 or
FACK was set up in July 2006 to support families such as Steven Allen’s and to campaign to prevent more workplace deaths visit the website
FACK has produced a DVD called Face the FACKS: the human face of workplace killing as part of our campaign to stop workplace deaths: