Eastbourne Pier death: Three admit health and safety charges

Two men and a construction firm have admitted their part in the death of a workman as Eastbourne Pier was rebuilt after a devastating blaze.

Monday, 15th March 2021, 11:40 am
Fatal accident at Eastbourne Pier, August 19, 2014 SUS-140820-104348001

Stephen Penrice, who was 44 and from Cumbria, fell to his death while working on repairing part of the seafront landmark in August 2014 – just weeks after the fire which destroyed the famous Blue Room arcade, the entrance and a number of shops.

Michael Hawkins, 37, from Cumbria, and Paul Dixon, 53, from Lancashire, were both charged with gross negligence manslaughter in cionnection with Mr Penrice’s death and the company involved in the rebuilding project, MPM (North West) Ltd, also faced charges.

After entering not guilty pleas, a trial began at Brighton earlier this year and was expected to last at least seven weeks.

Stephen Penrice, 44, of Cumbria. Who died in Eastbourne in August 2014 SUS-140821-145138001

But this week the trial collapsed.

A spokesperson at the Crown Prosecution Service, which brought the case, said, “The judge directed acquittal on the two gross negligence manslaughter charges in relation to Mr Hawkins and Mr Dixon. The three accused all pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of failing to discharge a duty under the Health & Safety at Work Act.”

The three will return to court on Friday March 19 for sentencing.

Flowers left at the pier as a tribute to the construction worker from cumbria that lost his life Stephen Penrice SUS-140821-142424001