Two Birmingham metal recycling firm directors have been sentenced to nine months in prison each following the deaths of five workers after a 45-tonne wall collapsed.
Wayne Hawkeswood and Graham Woodhouse denied risking workers’ safety; however, after a six-week trial, the jury found both men guilty of all 12 counts under the Health and Safety at Work Act.
On 7 July 2016, Ousmane Kaba Diaby, Saibo Sumbundu Sillah, Bangally Tunkara Dukuray, Almamo Kinteh Jammeh and Mahamadou Jagana Jagana were all fatally crushed by the collapsing 3.6m (11ft 10in) wall at the site on Aston Church Road in the Nechells area of the city. While Tombong Camara Conteh sustained serious injuries.
The wall was made up of 30 concrete blocks and was pushed over by a metal structure overloaded with 263 tonnes of briquettes.
The men’s families described the metal recycling firm’s failures as “scandalous and inexcusable”. They have also criticised the delays in the case and, in 2020, staged a rally outside the scrapyard on the fourth anniversary of the deaths.
Speaking after the sentencing at Birmingham Crown Court, the families said they miss the men “every single day” and were relieved the directors had been jailed.
In a statement, they said: “On the day they died, we made each of them a promise that we would secure justice.
“It has been a long and difficult road to get to this point. But we can now rest easier as our promise has been kept.”
Five men lost their lives in the most appalling of circumstances.
Hawkeswood and Woodhouse’s two companies Shredmet, now known as ENSCO101, and Hawkeswood Metal Recycling (HMR) were fined £600,000 and £1 million respectively. The judge also ordered that £775,000 must be paid in prosecution costs.
Speaking after sentencing on Monday, principal inspector Amy Kalay, said: “I hope the families and friends of the men who died find some comfort in today’s sentencing.
“The investigation into this incident was long and complex. Five men lost their lives in the most appalling of circumstances. Their deaths should not have happened. They went to work to earn a wage; that cost them their lives.
“These five men were placed into a working environment that was fundamentally unsafe. The failings of the companies and individuals brought to justice today were responsible for this tragedy.”