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Collyweston property developer fails in bid to clear his name after being convincted for gross negligence manslaughter when worker was buried alive on site

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A property developer jailed for manslaughter after health and safety failings led to the death of a building site worker has failed in a bid to clear his name.

Shane Wilkinson was buried alive when a trench intended to take drainage pipes collapsed on him in September 2014.

The tragedy unfolded during construction of nine new homes in a cul-de-sac just off the A43 in the village of Collyweston.

Andrew William Winterton, 53, the construction site manager and a director of development firm Conquest Home LLP, was arrested.

Court news (5105395)
Court news (5105395)

The businessman, of High Street, Collyweston, was jailed for four years and hit with a £20,000 prosecution costs order in June last year.

He was convicted of gross negligence manslaughter and three counts of breaching workplace health and safety rules at Northampton Crown Court.

At London's Criminal Appeal Court , Lady Justice Macur and two other judges heard him argue he was the victim of a miscarriage of justice.

The court heard Mr Wilkinson had been "standing either in the trench or at its edge when it collapsed."

"He was buried in earth and rubble and suffered severe blunt force trauma to his head, which caused a large skull fracture, from which he died," said the judge.

The prosecution case was that the trench was about two metres deep, with vertical unsupported sides, and was "prone to collapse"

Jurors were told Winterton "knew that the trench had been dug in a manner which was obviously dangerous" and "did nothing about it."

In his defence, Winterton claimed he had never seen the finished trench and was unaware of the danger posed.

Challenging his convictions, his lawyers claimed the case against him was so weak it should never have gone before a jury.

But, dismissing the challenge, Lady Justice Macur said: "We are in no doubt that the judge was right to leave this case to the jury.

"There was evidence from which the jury could conclude that he was actually aware of the method of excavation and that it was dangerous and there was a serious risk of death."

Photographic evidence seen by the jury "clearly demonstrated the dangerous workmanship that posed a real and significant risk of death," she added.

"It was a question of 'when' not 'if' the trench would collapse, and this would or should have been apparent to anybody."

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