Shropshire Star

Two avoid jail after worker dies following electrocution from 11,000 volt power line

Two men have avoided jail for health and safety breaches after a worker died when he came into contact with power lines carrying 11,000 volts.


Bryan Welch, 46, was putting roof tiles on the top of a barn reconstruction at Red House Farm, Smethcott, Church Stretton on November 4, 2013, working directly under two power lines.

Mr Welch was working with his cousin Simon Bloor, 54, at the time, and came into contact with the power lines.

Mr Welch, of Marshbrook, received treatment, but later died at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.

Bloor, and farm owner John Richard Downes, 73, admitted failing to avoid risks to health and safety arising from the construction of a barn under power lines, and working at height.

Sentencing the pair, Judge Jim Tindal said: “By the end of October and early November, the risks of this were obvious, but you ploughed on regardless.”

Both men admitted health and safety breaches at previous hearings.

Prosecutor Timothy Green told the court Bloor was the owner of CFS Shrewsbury, and Downes’ company was JR & MC Downes & Son, and the pair were in partnership.

They had worked on previous re-constructions, and this one involved moving a barn from one site to the Red House Farm.

He said the power lines ran diagonally across the barn structure, and carried 11,000 volts.

Bloor was the contractor for Downes, and then Bloor sub contracted work to Mr Welch.

He said neither Downes or Bloor were trained in the design of commercial buildings.

The location of the barn was chosen by Downes under the power lines, and he had designed the building.

Mr Green said Downes had been contacted by West Power Distribution stating they would have to be consulted on any construction work near the lines, and they were not asked at any stage to disconnect the power.

He said work began, and the roof of the structure was 1.4 metres below the power lines.

On November 4, 2013, Bloor and Mr Welch were working on the structure when Mr Welch came into contact with the lines.

He was left unconscious and Bloor called 999, but despite efforts of paramedics, he later died in hospital.

Mr Green said: “They had two conversations about the risks posed.

“Bloor discussed with Downes about the risks, and Downes told him to be careful.”

Adam Farrer, defending Bloor, said this was a tragic case for the Welch family, who had suffered on-going pain since the incident nearly four years ago.

His client admitted poor judgement and regrets it ever happened. Mr Farrer said: “He has learnt a very hard and painful lesson.”

He added his client was of good character with no risk of re-offending, and said: “His actions that day will always live with him.”

Richard Matthews, defending Downes, said his clients conduct towards the Welch family since the incident had been one expected of “any decent human being.”

Judge Tindal said the risk was obvious to the both and they had a discussion as late as November 3, and that Downes had failed to ask the power company to turn the lines off.

He sentenced Bloor to 28 weeks jail suspended for two years for the health and safety breach relating to the power lines.

For the breach related to working at height, he passed a sentence of 12 weeks prison, suspended for two years, to run concurrent, and ordered 200 hours of unpaid work.

Downes received a 12-month community order with 200 hours unpaid work.

Judge Tindal added: “I always find in these cases nothing I can say or sentence I pass will bring him back.

“But I hope if nothing else at least today is a step which helps you move on in some way.

“The very long time has only rubbed salt into the wound.

“I give my condolences and best wishes to the family into the future.”

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