A COMPANY will admit blame over the tragic death of a teenage South Tyneside worker at a dockyard, a court heard.
Engineer Jason Burden, 19, from South Shields, died after a 800 kg piece of metal machinery fell on him as he worked at South Docks in Sunderland in December 2011.
Tyne Slipway and Engineering was charged after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive, and directors from the firm appeared at Newcastle Crown Court yesterday.
No plea was formally entered but Dominic Adamson, representing the firm, said guilt will be admitted in relation to what happened. Mr Adamson told the court: “This is a case which arises out of a fatal accident, a young man.
“The defendant is charged with an offence of breaching section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act.
“In essence, what happened was Mr Burden was working on a thruster, a piece of equipment which allows ships to move in a lateral direction as they dock.
“He was doing so in the workshop of the defendant company.
“During the course of that operation he pulled on a piece of equipment which weighed about 800kg and it landed on top of him.
“As a result of that he sustained fatal injuries.
“It is the defendant’s intention to plead guilty to the offence.”
The court heard the company will admit guilt on a certain basis and there may be dispute between the defence and prosecution that will mean evidence is heard by a judge to determine the facts.
The hearing will take place on January 20 and could take up to three days.
Grieving members of Jason’s family were in the public gallery during yesterday’s hearing.
Judge James Goss QC told them: “There is not going to a be a jury trial in relation to this case because the company is going to admit having committed the offence that resulted in the death.
“There is not going to be a jury trial, a guilty plea is going to be entered but the overwhelming likelihood is there will be a form of trial on January 20 in which a judge, and judge alone, will resolve conflict in the issues of fact surrounding the case.”
The judge said he hoped the admission would bring “some comfort” to Jason’s distraught relatives.