Trench death de­ci­sion re­served

Matamata Chronicle - - Your Paper, Your Place - MIKE MATHER

Mike Haines was work­ing as a con­trac­tor on a Ra­pu­rapu Rd farm when the wall of a freshly dug trench col­lapsed on him.

An engi­neer­ing com­pany charged over the death of a worker ac­ci­den­tally buried alive in a ditch will have to wait to find out how much it will have to pay out to his fam­ily.

Steel­con Con­struc­tion was due to be sen­tenced in the High Court in Hamil­ton on Thurs­day for three breaches of the Health and Safety in Em­ploy­ment Act in re­la­tion to the death of Mata­mata man Mike Haines in May last year.

The 34-year-old was work­ing as a con­trac­tor on a Ra­pu­rapu Rd farm when the wall of a freshly dug trench col­lapsed on him, af­ter he jumped in to work on a dairy ef­flu­ent pipe join.

Col­leagues fran­ti­cally dug him out, but his con­di­tion de­te­ri­o­rated and he died at the scene.

As well as the com­pany, its man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Rod­ney Stephen Bishop has also been charged un­der the act.

He is also fac­ing a charge of man­slaugh­ter, on which he is yet to en­ter a plea.

Bishop was not at court on Thurs­day. He will next ap­pear in the High Court on De­cem­ber 15, when he has to en­ter a plea.

Steel­con’s lawyer Jonathan Temm asked the court to note the com­pany’s early guilty plea to the charges.

The com­pany was also fully in­sured and it was also due credit for that, be­cause it re­flected a re­spon­si­ble busi­ness prac­tice, he said.

Jus­tice John Fog­a­rty said the level of cul­pa­bil­ity of Bishop – who had been op­er­at­ing a dig­ger nearby when the col­lapse hap­pened – needed to be de­ter­mined.

The amount to be paid in emo­tional harm repa­ra­tion is also yet to be re­solved.

Jus­tice Fog­a­rty re­served his de­ci­sion un­til the end of this week.

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