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A builder was facing a prison sentence today after admitting the manslaughter of a 15-year-old boy who was working as a labourer.

Adam Gosling (pictured) died instantly from massive head injuries when a wall fell on him during building work in the grounds of a north London mansion.

His boss, Colin Holtom, 64, of Meadow Way, Latchingdon, Essex, pleaded guilty today to Adam's manslaughter in April, 2007, on the grounds of gross negligence.

He was remanded on bail until Monday when he will be sentenced with contractor Darren Fowler, 46, of Parkland Avenue, Upminster, Essex.

Fowler pleaded guilty in April to breaching health and safety law and running a company while disqualified from being a director.

Old Bailey Judge Christopher Moss warned Holtom today: "All options are open. Having given you bail, it does not rule out a custodial sentence."

Holtom had originally denied the offence but changed his plea today when a retrial was due to begin.

The court was told that Adam and his 18-year-old brother Dean had been left unsupervised to knock down a seven-metre high wall in Hadley Wood.

Holtom was said to have a "laissez faire" attitude to health and safety.

Martyn Bowyer, prosecuting, said Adam was earning £25 a day as a labourer but should never have been allowed to carry out such work.

Adam, who also lived in Latchingdon, was "not an academic lad" and had given up on full-time education, but was a "grafter" and decided to join his older brothers working as a casual labourer for Holtom.

The court heard that Holtom had never provided safety equipment such as hard hats.

Mr Bowyer said the accident happened days after Darren Fowler had identified the wall as being unstable and only fit for being taken down brick by brick.

But, according to Dean, no such instructions were given to him and his brother and instead they were handed a sledgehammer and a pneumatic hammer to carry out the job before being left to it by Holtom.

As they did so, the wall suddenly began to lean towards the rear garden, at which point Dean grabbed hold of the wall and Adam ran off to get instructions.

"According to Dean, when Adam came back, he said that he had been told by Colin Holtom to go into the neighbour's garden and push the wall back, as they had been told not to let the wall fall." said Mr Bowyer.

"Adam then jumped over a small fence into the rear garden and attempted to prop up the wall while his older brother was trying to pull it back. Then tragically it toppled towards Adam, splitting in the middle, and fell on him."

Police said the work centred on an outdoor swimming pool.

The existing pool house had been demolished, exposing a 22ft 6.7m) long wall which had a large crack running almost down its centre.

Outside court, Detective Inspector Pete Basnett said: "Holtom left two inexperienced young workers working at a wall already deemed to be dangerous without supervising them or giving proper instructions on how the work was to be carried out.

"What makes this case particularly tragic is that Adam's brother witnessed his death first-hand.

"He and the rest of his family have been left devastated by what happened."

Simon Hester, the investigating inspector from the Health and Safety Executive, said: "The management and set-up of this small construction project was appalling.

"Adam Gosling should never have been there at all as 15-year- olds have been banned from working on construction sites since 1920.

"There was a complete disregard for basic health and safety requirements."

Speaking after the case, Tony O'Brien, National Secretary of the Construction Safety Campaign said: “This was a totally predictable and preventable incident with the loss of the life of a lad that shouldn't even have been there.

"There are very many more fatal workplace incidents that should end up with employers facing manslaughter charges – but they don't. This must change if this dangerous, casualised industry is ever to improve.”
 

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..............
Adam, who also lived in Latchingdon, was "not an academic lad" and had given up on full-time education, but was a "grafter" and decided to join his older brothers working as a casual labourer for Holtom.............
Can you define "grafter" for
those of us over her?
It doesn't sound complimentary.
 
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