No manslaughter charges over Teesworks demolition deaths

After four years of investigation, police and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have announced there will be no manslaughter charges in relation to the deaths of two demolition workers at a decommissioned steelworks.

John Mackay, 49, and Tommy Williams, 65, died following an explosion at the former British Steel Teesworks site in Redcar on 19 September 2019.

John F Hunt was the demolition contractor working on site, for client the South Tees Site Company.

A statement released by the HSE said that following “a thorough joint investigation by Cleveland Police and HSE”, they have determined that there is insufficient evidence to support gross negligence manslaughter or corporate manslaughter charges.

HSE principal inspector John Heslop said: “Although some of these developments are difficult for the families of John and Tom, I have assured them that the criminal investigation into their deaths remains ongoing.

“We also made it clear our investigation will be a thorough one, while also recognising the desire for a speedy conclusion.”

The investigation is still assessing possible criminal charges and Cleveland Police are supporting the investigation. Cleveland Police and HSE have not specified which further possible criminal charges are being assessed.

A spokesperson for the South Tees Site Company said: “Our thoughts remain with the loved ones of John Mackay and Tom Williams following this tragic and devastating incident four years ago. We have always fully supported the need for an extensive and detailed investigation into this tragedy and the process to provide important answers to the families.

“We will continue to work with the Health and Safety Executive to provide all and any assistance required with the investigation as it progresses to a conclusion.”

Formerly a part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the company has been a wholly owned subsidiary of the South Tees Development Corporation since October 2020.

John F Hunt and Nationwide Platforms have been approached for comment.

In June 2022, John Mackay’s widow Ann told BBC News that she was growing increasingly frustrated at the long wait to find out what happened to her husband, who was working on site for Nationwide Platforms.

“Two men lost their lives and it feels like nobody cares,” she said.

Earlier this year, Construction News highlighted the proliferation of fatal health and safety cases taking years to investigate, leaving families in the dark about why their loved ones died, and the industry unable to learn lessons in order to prevent similar tragedies happening again.

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