Cowboy builder fined just £10,000 after his dodgy fireplace crushed to death a four-year-old boy

June 27, 2013 | by | 0 Comments
Matthew Green  was crushed to death by a 50 Kilogram stone mantelpiece in October 2005

Matthew Green was crushed to death by a 50 Kilogram stone mantelpiece in October 2005

The devastated parents of a four-year-old boy who was crushed to death by a stone fireplace today spoke of their ‘anger’ after the cowboy builder who fitted it escaped with a £10,000 fine.

Tragic Matthew Green died of massive internal injuries when the 50kg (110lb) chunk of masonry snapped in two and struck him in the chest.

He was airlifted to Northampton General Hospital following the incident on October 15, 2005 but died hours later of heart injuries caused by blunt chest trauma.

Unqualified stonemason Kristian Childs, 43, – whose former company K D Childs Stonework fitted the fireplace – was fined £10,015 after he admitted breaching health and safety regulations on Wednesday.

Childs was employed by house-building giant Persimmon Homes to fit he fireplace but he merely GLUED it to the wall instead of using proper screws.

Yesterday Matthew’s devastated parents Gail, 44, and David, 42, condemned Persimmon Homes – saying they ‘killed’ their son.

Housewife Gail fumed: “We just want this sort of thing stopped, this should not have happened to our child.

“We are disappointed that Persimmon Homes are not in that court room and we feel let down about that.

“The things we would like to say about Persimmon Homes you would not be able to print due to the anger we have for them.

“We feel that the house builder, Persimmon Homes, and the fireplace installer, K D Childs, were responsible for the death of our son.

“We have waited nearly eight years for the matter to eventually be finalised through the court which is in our opinion far too long to prolong the suffering and distress to our family.

“Whatever the outcome of the SHE prosecutions, nothing will bring back Matthew, but we want to insure that something is done to prevent incidents like this happening to any other child in the future.

“Since the inquest in 2008 we are aware of at least two further children that have tragically been killed in incidents involving fire places.

Kristian Childs arrives for sentencing at Northampton Crown Court after the fireplace he installed fell down

Kristian Childs arrives for sentencing at Northampton Crown Court after the fireplace he installed fell down

“We cannot help but feel that had the matter been dealt with more promptly and in a different manner by all those involved at least one of those needless deaths may have been prevented.”

Childs pleaded guilty at Northampton Crown Court to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Judge Rupert Mayo told the court: “Mr Childs had no training in stone design, manufacturing or restoration.

“He does not keep records, there are no sketches or method statements with his work.

“There is no doubt that his remorse and regret is genuine.

“His life has been affected greatly by the Greens’ loss.

“He is now divorced, a turnover on his business has gone from £400,000 to just £31,000.

Matthew's parents Gail and David Green outside Northampton crown court

Matthew’s parents Gail and David Green outside Northampton crown court

“The news of the incident involving Matthew distinguished his business virtually overnight.

“For everyone connected with this case seven and a half years since Matthew’s tragic death must feel like a lifetime.

“This includes Mr Childs, who has never failed to accept his negligence.

“Any fine I make is not a value on the life of Matthew Green.

“To anyone that knew Matthew, to his friends and family, his life was perfectly beyond value.”

Childs fitted the stone lintel to the new-build Persimmon home in Coulthard Close, Towcester, Northants., when it was built in 2003 before the Greens moved in.

But the massive weight fell on Matthew just two years later and it was discovered the fireplace had not been bolted into place but stuck with glue.

His distraught father David, a DM of his own insurance brokers, had been greeting friends at the door when he heard a loud crash in the living room.

He returned to the house to find his son slumped against the fireplace.

Investigations concluded that there was a lack of mortar fixing the mantelpiece to the fireplace.

Prosecuting, Mark Harris, said: “The mantelpiece fell and struck him, the fireplace had been designed by Mr Childs and was fitted by his employees.

“The immediate cause of the accident was the failure of the stonework which was not fixed properly.”

Childs was fined £7,500, and ordered to pay costs of £2,500 and a victim surcharge of £15.

He refused to comment outside court.

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