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Suspended prison sentence for landscape gardener after death of worker

11 January 2013

A Staffordshire landscape gardener has been given a suspended prison sentence and 180 hours of unpaid community service, after a worker was killed by a falling gate post.

Leeson Lavender, 39, of Lyndhurst Steet, Stoke-on-Trent, was helping Eden Maddocks to install a large oak post at a property in Pepper Street, Keele, when the fatal incident occurred on 20 May 2010.

The two men stood on a trailer that had been used to transport the post and had started to manoeuvre it towards a pre-dug hole. As they lifted it the trailer shifted, causing Mr Lavender and the post to fall out.

Mr Lavender, who was known locally as Spud, hit his head on the ground before the post struck him on his head. He died later in hospital from his injuries.

Stafford Crown Court heard today (11 January) that an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Eden Maddocks, trading as Eden Creative Landscapes, had successfully used this method of work on other occasions. However, this time the oak post was larger and heavier than he had been used to.

Mr Maddocks had told Mr Lavender they would try to lift the post once and if it was too heavy they would wait for the more manpower to arrive in the form of the property owner and an electrician who was due at the house.

Eden Shane Maddocks, of Reedham Way, Bucknall, Stoke-on-Trent, was given a six month prison sentence suspended for 12 months, and 180 hours unpaid community service work, after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Mr Lindsay Hope said:

"Mr Maddocks had balanced the trailer with sandbags and provided stone chocks to stabilize it during the lifting process. He had also provided guide nails in the trailer to stop it sliding sideways during transportation, so he had obviously considered the potential stability issues and had taken some precautions in an attempt to reduce the risks of the post overbalancing.

"Sadly he didn’t do enough and Leeson Lavender paid with his life – a tragic and unnecessary death that could have avoided with better planning and a safer method of work."

Notes to editors

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to prevent death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training, new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement.
  2. Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.

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