THE heartbroken parents of a teenager killed in a tragic accident said his death “could and should have been avoided”.
Jason Burden, 19, died when metal machinery weighing almost a tonne fell on him, while he worked at South Docks in Sunderland, in December 2011.
The apprentice engineer, from Fox Avenue in South Shields, suffered fatal crush injuries, despite colleagues and emergency services desperately trying to save his life.
His employers, Tyne Slipway and Engineering, were yesterday fined £75,000 and ordered to pay court costs of £47,936 at Newcastle Crown Court, after having pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to discharge a duty under Health and Safety legislation.
His devastated parents say the sum is “irrelevant”, but hope it will lead to safety measures put in place to prevent future loss of life.
Dad Trevor Burden, 45, told Judge James Goss, QC, from the court’s public gallery, that Tyne Slipway and Engineering would “never be forgiven” by his family for their actions.
Speaking after the case, he told the Gazette: “The money is irrelevant. As the judge said, you can’t put a value on a life.
“Jason’s death could and should have been avoided. He was unsupervised and risk assessments weren’t carried out. It has been heartbreaking. Every day has just been a challenge. I couldn’t have got through it without my family.”
“The company didn’t initially enter a plea at the magistrates. It would have been a lot easier for us if they had put their hands up straightaway, as it has ultimately been proven they were at fault.
Mum Marie Burden, also 45, added: “He was only an apprentice engineer at the time and should’ve had supervision.”
While Mr Burden, a taxi driver, admits he is unable to forgive the firm, he is full of praise for Jason’s fellow workers.
He added: “We would like to thank all of Jason’s fellow workers. They did all they could to help him and we thank them from the bottom of our hearts.
As well as grieving parents, Jason’s loss is still felt by younger brother, Josh, 12, and Rachel, 17, and girlfriend Rachel Conroy, 22.
Mr Burden added: “We are so proud of Rachel and Josh for how they have coped over the last two years. Rachel got great results in her GCSE exams and Josh is a talented goalkeeper, like Jason was.
“He had a loving realtionship with Rachel. She was at the court hearing. She was left devastated, as we all were.”
Mrs Burden added: “He was the perfect son, he always got on with everyone he met.”
As well as being a promising engineer, Jason, who went to Lord Blyton Primary School, at Wenlock Road, South Shields, and South Shields Community School, at Nevinson Avenue, was a keen footballer, who turned out in goal for FC Simonside, as well as being a talented DJ.