Shipdham construction company pleads guilty over crane fall deaths

The Falcon Crane Hire site at Shipdham Airfield Industrial Estate. Picture: James Bass

The Falcon Crane Hire site at Shipdham Airfield Industrial Estate. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2007

A construction company is facing a large fine after admitting health and safety breaches which resulted in a crane collapsing and killing two people.

Michael Alexa died when a crane collapsed in Battersea.

Michael Alexa died when a crane collapsed in Battersea. - Credit: Archant

Falcon Crane Hire, which is based at Shipdham, near Dereham, pleaded guilty to two charges under the Health and Safety Work Act 1974 after charges against its managing director Douglas Genge, of Staithe Road, Ludham, were dropped.

Michael Alexa, 21, was changing the wheel of his car when he was crushed to death by the falling crane in Battersea, south London.

The crane driver, Jonathan Cloke, 37, was also killed in the tragedy, back in September 2006.

The crane was being used to build flats on the site of a former school in Thessaly Road, Battersea, at the time of the accident on September 26 2006.

Jonathan Cloke died when a crane collapsed in Battersea.

Jonathan Cloke died when a crane collapsed in Battersea.

A police investigation found the machine had been overloaded with twelve tonnes of counterweights instead of eight.

The operating company had also neglected to investigate why four bolts on the crane had failed two months earlier.

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Deanna Heer, prosecuting, said: 'The prosecution and the defence have been in discussion.

'The company has agreed to plead guilty on the condition that the prosecution bring to a conclusion the case against Mr Genge, its managing director.'

Judge Alistair McCreath accepted this basis of plea and allowed the charges against Mr Genge to be dropped.

The judge adjourned sentencing Falcon Crane Hire Limited until March 15 so members of Mr Cloke's family can fly over from South Africa to attend the hearing.

Mr Cloke, of Stoughton Road, Guildford, Surrey, died from severe head injuries after falling from the cab as the 50m crane collapsed.

Romanian Mr Alexa, of Flaxman Road, Brixton, a bus driver who did not work on the site, was crushed to death close by.

Falcon Crane Hire Ltd admitted failing to ensure health and safety and welfare of employees at work and exposing another to risks to health and safety.

The offences carry the maximum of an unlimited fine in the crown court.

Mr Genge, 71, denied the charges and they were dropped by the prosecution.

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