BW face massive fine over diver's death

Published: Thursday, 18 June 2009

IT IS expected that massive fines will be handed out to British Waterways and Sea Technical Services (STS) after they admitted failings preceding a diver's death at a Severn lock.

David Moore, (pictured) 29, died at Upper Lode Lock on the Severn near Tewkesbury when he was crushed by a torrent of water following the collapse of a temporary dam.

David had been carrying out maintenance work at the site on behalf of Sea Technical Services, which had been hired by British Waterways.

At Cheltenham Magistrates' Court this week, British Waterways, STS and its director Christopher Drake pleaded guilty to charges brought by the Health and Safety Executive.

Prosecuting for the executive, Stephen Covell told the Court that the dam 'failed catastrophically', leading to the death of David on October 15th, 2004, as was reported in narrowboatworld.

He explained:

"Mr Moore was attempting to seal leaks in the dam when gaps suddenly opened up and there was an eruption of water. He was crushed under the enormous pressure."

"The dam was patently not suitable, and British Waterways had overseen a catalogue of failures at the site."

The Court heard David quickly became trapped under 11ft of water in the lock, and was taken to hospital, but died.

The prosecutor said Drake's decision to allow David to dive was 'instrumental' in his death and STS had failed to properly assess the risks.

British Waterways admitted three charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

The bench told its powers to fine—up to £30,000 for British Waterways and £5,000 each for STS and Drake—were not sufficient and committed the cases to Gloucester Crown Court for sentences.

Last year, Gloucestershire coroner Alan Crickmore recorded a narrative verdict at an inquest into David's death, stating that no blame should be implied on any of the parties involved, a verdict which disappointed David's family.

Upper Lode Lock was closed following the death while the Health & Safety Executive carried out an investigation.

Sentences will be passed at Gloucester Crown Court on a date to be set.