A company director has been found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence after a man was crushed to death while working in a warehouse.
Han Rao, 34 (13.01.86) of Naomi Street, Lewisham was convicted following a trial at the Old Bailey which concluded on Thursday, 30 January.
He was also found guilty of health and safety offences, as was his company TLW.
He will be sentenced on Tuesday, 4 February at the same court.
Rao was the sole director and shareholder of TLW, a small business providing industrial warehousing services for construction companies.
On 16 November 2015, Rao had tasked two of his employees, including 39-year-old Marian Iancu, to break up a number of damaged glazing panels.
Marian and his colleague were tipping the panels – which were made of glass and metal and weighed hundreds of kilos each – into a skip before smashing them up by hand. As he manoeuvred one panel into a position with a forklift truck it toppled forward, crushing him against the truck.
Despite the efforts of his colleague to remove the panel, Marian suffered severe internal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.
A joint investigation by police and Barking and Dagenham Council found that Rao had no health and safety policies in place, had not provided his employees with any training and had left them to carry out the work without any proper supervision.
On the day of the incident, an employee of the construction company visited the site and saw Marian and his colleague at work. Concerned by what he saw, he told them that what they were doing was unsafe, but they said they have been instructed to carry out the job by Rao.
He subsequently went into the office to speak to Rao and told him that the men should not be working alone and without the adequate personal protective equipment.
Although Rao then went outside to speak to Marian and his colleague, he did not tell them to stop, instead he urged them to be careful and wear gloves.
Detective Constable Andy Jose, who led the investigation, said: "Rao was woefully unqualified as a manager. Not only did he have no knowledge or experience of his duties, he had not taken any steps to find out what he was required to do in terms of health and safety.
"He had also been made aware that this was a dangerous task but had not done anything to mitigate the risks. In fact, he ignored all of the warning signs put to him, signs which could have prevented Marian’s needless death had he acted upon them.
"He has continually failed to admit any responsibility and in doing so put through put Marian’s distraught family through the pain of a trial. We would like to pay tribute to them for the way they have conducted themselves throughout this difficult period."
Marian’s brother, Adrian Iancu, said in a victim impact statement: "I know that it is extremely hard for anyone who has gone through tragic moments like this but when it happened to me at that moment, when I found out the dramatic news, I hoped that it was just a bad joke or a nightmare and the next morning I would wake up and everything would be back to normal.
"Unfortunately since 16 November 2015 the only thing that has remained for me and my family is a black hole with lots of unanswered questions.
"Marian was a simple man. He was a very good son, brother and friend. Someone that you could trust and rely on unconditionally. He always helped out with family, friends and work mates.
"Sadly Marian never had the opportunity to have a family of his own and on occasions he probably spent more time with my kids than I did because of my work. It was a joy to see him playing: family quality time that we will always remember with pleasure. We will definitely miss all these moments with deep regret in our hearts.
"There are, and will be, lots of regrets from that moment but the biggest regret is that I never had a chance to say “thank you” for being a great person, uncle, brother.
"Marian will live through our memories but we’re already missing simple things like a handshake or a hug or a simple presence. Our lives have been changed forever."
Han Rao was found guilty of:
- Manslaughter by gross negligence;
- Being an officer of a body corporate which committed an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 committed with the consent, connivance or being attributable to the neglect of the office holder contrary to Sections 2(1), 33(1)(a) and 37(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
TLW was found guilty of:
- Failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees pursuant to Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, contrary to Section 33(1)(a) of that Act.