No penalty enough for son's death

A COMPANY and its directors have been fined almost $250,000 after a worker was smothered when a trench collapsed on three men on an East Maitland property.

Phil Haynes said no penalty was ever going to be good enough to replace his son Timothy who suffocated on May 14, 2009, but Mr Haynes said the convictions of Allan and Scott Wadwell and their company, Wadwell Group, would serve as constant reminders of their failures.

‘‘It’s the things that weren’t done that cost our son his life,’’ Mr Haynes said after the judgment was handed down in the NSW Industrial Court on Friday.

‘‘I can’t believe what these people decided not to bother with.’’

Those things included not shoring up the wall of the trench and leaving dirt and other material beside it while Timothy, Allan Wadwell and another worker tried to install a support beam.

The Wadwells were installing a ‘‘bungee’’ pool for horses on the property of trotting and pacing trainers Robin and Christine Hosking, Justice Roger Boland said.

The trench was 17metres long, 2.4metres wide and reached a depth of 3.5metres.

No advice was sought from an engineer, no risk assessment was done and no one recognised the danger of leaving materials on the side of the trench, the court heard.

‘‘There was almost a complete absence of any active consideration by the defendants of the risk and no measures were put in place to guard against it,’’ Justice Boland said.

‘‘It simply did not consciously enter the minds of the personal defendants that the task they were undertaking carried with it the most serious risk of a person or persons being killed.’’

The company was fined $200,000, Allan Wadwell was fined $20,000 and Scott Wadwell was fined $10,000.

They were also ordered to pay costs.

For the Haynes family and Timothy’s fiancee Kasey Adams, it has been a   painful journey.

Instead of a wedding and 3oth birthday celebrations in 2009, Timothy’s family was left with his funeral.

‘‘[The sentence] was never going to replace Timothy,’’ Phil Haynes said.

‘‘Nothing was ever going to be good enough for that. 

‘‘What we wanted for these people was to end up with criminal convictions so it will sit above their heads.’’

The Wadwells pleaded guilty to breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. 

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