Verdict on footballer’s tragic accident

A company director has avoided a prison term after an employee lost several limbs when he received a massive electric shock from a 33-kilo-watt power line while working on scaffolding.

Well-known West Country footballer Jamie Mines, 34, was placed in an induced coma for six weeks as a result of his life-changing injuries and had both forearms, his right leg and left foot amputated.

Mr Mines, a father of baby twin girls, received the injuries in December last year while working in the depot of his employer, Boundary Scaffolding Ltd, in Swindon, Wiltshire.

Swindon Magistrates’ Court heard that Mr Mines, an amateur footballer, was working at the top of scaffolding helping to build a temporary shelter using corrugated iron panels.

Above him were a series of 33 kilo-watt power lines. Health and safety rules state the pylons must either be isolated, or a three-metre (9.8ft) exclusion zone must be enforced.

The court heard that Mr Mines, when stood on a platform, was just 2.7 metres (8.8ft) away from the lines.

Mr Mines, who had worked at the company for just three months, was hurt as he moved the corrugated sheeting and either touched or got too close to the lines.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, Mr Mines said: “I can’t quite put into words how it feels to wake up with no hands.

“I had five-month-old twin girls at the time of the accident. All I could think of when I woke up was the things I wouldn’t be able to do – for example, I wouldn’t be able to hold my babies’ hands again, I wouldn’t be able to draw, play catch or teach my girls any of the things that I had learned with my hands.

“There’s so many things I can’t do it’s hard to imagine, but to never feel anything with my hands again is what I struggle with the most.

“Sitting here now in my wheelchair nine months after the accident and I still don’t walk. For a man who was very active before the accident it has been extremely difficult, I was a keen sportsman as well as someone who enjoyed his job and was really hands-on with my babies.

“How my life has changed is almost indescribable.”

In the months that followed, more than £100,000 has been raised for Mr Mines to help him in his recovery.

Jonathon Griffiths-Clack, 44, of Sambourne Road, Minety, Wiltshire, had previously pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to discharge general health, safety and welfare duty to an employee.

The court heard the company had a good health and safety record and was well regarded in the Swindon area for its practices.

District Judge Anthony Calloway sentenced him to a six-month jail sentence, suspended for 12 months and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £1,545.30.

He said: “Mr Mines sustained serious electrical shock, which could have been fatal to him, causing life-changing injuries from which he will never recover.

“He is a hard-working and dedicated father.

“Taking the case as a whole, in my judgment the case passes the custody threshold but factoring all the mitigating features the court is able to suspend the sentence.”

Griffiths-Clack’s company, Boundary Scaffolding Ltd, also admitted the same charge and was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,415.10.

Speaking afterwards, HSE inspector Ian Whittles said: “This incident could have been prevented had the company and its director properly planned a safe system of work and ensured the scaffolding was erected in line with HSE regulations.

“Due to their failings, a young father has been left with life-changing injuries and the lives of an entire family have been changed forever.”

This article first appeared in the Independent. To get the latest articles when they appear, buy the print edition every Sunday or subscribe to our online edition HERE.