A househusband has been spared jail after a roofer fell to his death while helping him build a new £1million Grand Designs-style dream home for his family.
Roy Staunton, 45, had taken charge of the project after he and his wife won planning permission to place the Gothic-themed property on a plot next door to their 1950s detached home in Hale, near Altrincham, Greater Manchester.
But the self-employed and part-time electrician took down a scaffolding frame erected around a small one-storey area – referred to as a ‘snug’ – on the side of the development in the mistaken belief it was safe for workmen to tile the roof.
Tony Geldard, 63, slipped and fell eight feet to the ground while working on top of the snug, landing on a set of scaffolding boards and horizontal poles below.
He fractured his spinal cord and was left with severe brain damage, passing away three days later in hospital.
At Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester, Staunton admitted health and safety charges under the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
The father-of-two was sentenced to eight months imprisonment, suspended for two years, and was ordered to pay £16,529 costs which will be met by his insurers.
Roy Staunton (pictured above), 45, had taken charge of the project himself after he and his wife won planning permission to place the Gothic-themed property on a plot next door to their 1950s detached home in Hale, near Altrincham, Greater Manchester
Tony Geldard (pictured with his wife Karen on their wedding day in 2016), 63, slipped and fell eight feet to the ground while working on top of the snug, landing on a set of scaffolding boards and horizontal poles below
The Gothic-themed property, pictured left, next to Staunton’s former property on the right. He is now thought to be living in the new home with his Oxford-educated spouse Louise, 42, who works as a finance director for a secondary school and their two daughters
The tragedy occurred on July 18, 2017, after Mr Geldard, who had been working as a roofer since he was 16, had been sub-contracted to work on the luxury development which featured a games and media room and two en-suite bathrooms.
Inquiries revealed the fixed scaffolding frame surrounding the snug had been dismantled by Staunton in the days leading up to the tragedy after another roofer contracted to work on the site did not think it was needed.
Mr Geldard’s widow has since had to sell their family home and that of their daughter to stay solvent.
Staunton had initially applied to build a four-bedroom property with one of them above the snug, but agreed to reduce the size of the building to three bedrooms and keep the ground-floor snug which would house two sofas and a large TV.
He is now thought to be living in the home with his Oxford-educated spouse Louise, 42, who works as a finance director for a secondary school and their two daughters.
During his DIY project management operation, he consulted an architect and a health and safety advisor about the build but oversaw operations himself and ultimately made his own decisions on key workplace risks.
Prosecuting, Ms Rosalind Emsley-Smith said that as principal contractor Mr Staunton had a responsibility to control the risks from work being undertaken at height.
She continued: ‘But the scaffold around the snug area was apparently removed after the defendant had discussed the position with the contracted roofer Paul Moss who said he could safely undertake tiling on the remaining unfinished single storey section of the roof area without fixed scaffold in place.
Plans for the Gothic-themed home. Staunton had initially applied to build a four-bedroom property with one of them above the snug, but agreed to reduce the size of the building to three bedrooms and keep the ground-floor snug which would house two sofas and a large TV
Plans showing the proposed front elevation for the home. Inquiries revealed the fixed scaffolding frame around the snug had been dismantled by Staunton in the days leading up to the tragedy after another roofer contracted to work on the site did not think it was needed
‘Mr Moss was of the view a mobile scaffold would be sufficient and that he could use his own. Mr Staunton removed the fixed scaffolding around the snug because he needed to create an access route in order to build a retaining wall.
‘Mr Geldard who was subcontracted by Mr Moss, was carrying out roof work to the snug when he fell a distance of about 2.6 metres from the roof. As the scaffolding that had been in place at the rear of the property had been removed, there was nothing in place to protect him.’
She said paramedics arrived and performed CPR at the scene, but were hampered by the scaffolding tubes underneath Mr Geldard.
Ms Emsley-Smith added: ‘The reason why Mr Geldard fell from the roof is uncertain – his health difficulties may have been part of the cause. But the defendant accepts that whatever lead to the fall, the lack of scaffolding around the snug area was a cause of Mr. Geldard’s death.
‘The work was not appropriately planned and even if the subcontractor had been informed that the tower scaffolding was to be used as an alternative to fixed scaffolding, tower scaffolding was an inadequate control measure and would not have prevented this fall from height.
‘Whatever caused Mr Geldard to fall from the roof, the reality of the situation is that scaffolding should have been in place that would have prevented him from falling a height likely to cause him harm.
Mr Geldard (pictured above) was described as a ‘loving and much loved partner, husband, father and grandfather’ who ‘loved spending time with his family’
‘It wasn’t in place and the fall caused significant injuries from which he died. The failure to have adequate measures in place to prevent a fall are therefore a significant cause of actual harm in this case.’
In a statement, Mr Geldard’s widow Karen, who he married in 2016, said: ‘I just miss him. We have lost everything and he was one in a million. We have had to sell my house and my daughters house after what happened.’
Staunton gave no comment when interviewed by investigators.
In mitigation, his counsel Carl Hargan said: ‘This defendant cannot imagine the pain the family are going through. He never intended to hurt anyone.
‘It is not a case of reckless behaviour on his part. There has been a significant error of judgment. His intention was to build his own family home and he had undertaken the appropriate measures to complete a self build.
‘It was not a cowboy operation. He had employed a health and safety consultant and he has been a respected electrician for many years. The fact is maybe he took on too much.
‘He has since returned to work part time as a self employed electrician but now he has had an experience that will stay with him for the rest of his life, never forgetting his actions led to Mr Geldard’s death.
‘He says it is the most impactful trauma he has ever experienced. It is still overwhelming for him. He accepts he was naive with the enormity of the task and the weight of responsibility.
‘He is a hard working man trying to do the best for his family. He is the primary carer for his two daughters. His wife is the main bread winner in the house. He provides emotional support.’
Staunton (pictured outside court with his wife Louise) was sentenced to eight months imprisonment, suspended for two years, and was ordered to pay £16,529 costs which will be met by his insurers
Sentencing Staunton, Judge Angela Nield described Mr Geldard as a ‘loving and much loved partner, husband, father and grandfather’ who ‘loved spending time with his family’.
She said: ‘He was a compulsive workaholic and enjoyed nothing more than working seven days a week. His widow says he was at his happiest when he was working. He had been a roofer since he was 16 working on all sorts of projects.
‘His widow describes how he had always looked after his own health and describes the catastrophic impact this has had on her and the rest of the family.
‘It has struck her not only emotionally but also financially. The strain led to the sale of her and her daughter’s home as they were not able to deal with repairs.’
She added: ‘You had a consultation from a trusted architect before embarking on your role as principal contractor but you did not realise the enormity of the task you had taken on. The ultimate responsibility falls to you.
‘Had the work been properly planned, then the scaffolding would not have been removed. Mr Geldard accessed the roof by a ladder and the tragic consequences of that are stark. This has comprehensively destroyed the lives of two families.’
Source: Daily Mail UK