Howard Civil Engineering fined over death of 7-year-old Conley Thompson in Barnsley

Investigators at the site of where Conley Thompson died in 2015. Credit: PA

A construction company has been fined £600,000 over the death of a seven-year-old boy at a building site branded "a death trap" by a judge.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Conley Thompson died after slipping into a vertical pipe used to house fence posts at the site in Bank End Road, Worsbrough, Barnsley, in July 2015.

Howard Civil Engineering Ltd, of Seacroft in Leeds, admitted breaching health and safety regulations by failing to prevent public access to the site.

Appearing at Sheffield Crown Court on Thursday, 4 August, the company was fined £600,000 and ordered to pay £42,952 in costs.  

Judge Jeremy Richardson QC said the company's failures put the public at risk.

"The site was obviously a death trap in so many respects, most building sites are. That is why it is necessary to keep people out of such places," he said.

Howard Civil Engineering admitted health and safety breaches Credit: PA

Conley, who had previously played on the building site, was reported missing on 26 July, 2015. His body was found by builders as they arrived for work the following day.

His hands could be seen sticking out of the pipe. Police later said that his weight caused his clothing to gather up around his body, restricting his breathing.

In a statement after his death, Conley's family described him as "cheeky, mischievous and loud, but also loving and caring, with a heart of gold".

"As with most boys his age, Conley lived life large and loud, with a zest for adventure and curiosity," they said.

A superhero-themed funeral was held for Conley Credit: PA

The site had no security guards for almost a fortnight and panels had been removed from the fence around it.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Paul Yeadon said: "Conley should never have been able to be on that site. He should have been kept out.

"The construction industry should be aware of the dangers of construction sites to members of the public and any other unauthorised persons.

"The dangers to children gaining access to construction sites and treating them like a playground is an ongoing problem which must be addressed at all types of sites no matter what their complexity or size."

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