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M25 Brentwood works tragedy: Construction firm and tipper driver deny death charges

17:39 02 May 2014

The horror death of a foreman working on the M25 widening in Essex when a 23-tonne bulldozer reversed over him happened because he was in the wrong place and the driver didn’t know where he was a court was told today.

Mihai Hondru, 39, of Poplar Way, Ilford, died on the site near Brentwood on October 20, 2010, when he was marshalling a tipper truck dumping its load of earth for bulldozer driver Stephen Blackmore, from Cullompton to spread.

The prosecution at Chelmsford Crown Court alleges that construction firm, J McArdle Contracts Ltd, of Colnbrook, near Slough, which went into administration last year, and Blackmore, 55, of Manitoba Gardens, Cullompton, are both responsible for Mr Hondru’s death.

Both the company and Blackmore deny health and safety failures which led to the death of unmarried agency worker Mr Hondru on the clockwise section of the M25 near the A127 junction.

J McArdle Contracts Ltd pleads not guilty to failing to discharge its duty by ensuring that Mr Hondru was not exposed to risk of collision with heavy machinery. It is claimed that it should have adequately segregated vehicles and working pedestrians.

However,the company claims Blackmore should not have operated his heavy plant before he knew where the vehicle marshall was.

Blackmore, who owns the bulldozer, was a sub-contractor for McArdle. He pleads not guilty to failing to operate the New Holland D180 earthmoving tractor in a safe manner, thereby causing injury to Mr Hondru. He claims that Mr Hondru behaved entirely unexpectedly and unpredictably.

Giving evidence on behalf of McArdle, its then deputy MD Nick Roper told the jury the specialist earthworks company had a method of working practices and controls in place in October.

Mr Roper said: “Given the controls in place we really couldn’t understand how the accident happened. Of the investigation we went through we felt it was the appropriate and safe system of work.”

Blackmore told the jury that he had worked with Romanian Mr Hondru, who spoke broken English, for a number of weeks and he had spoken to him several times about his position as a banksman, or marshaller.

He said : “He would sometimes walk up between the dozer and batten and I told him to watch himself because it was a dangerous place.”

In cross-examination, Blackmore accepted he reversed not knowing where Mr Hondru was.

The jury heard earlier that the tipper driver saw Mr Hondru walk behind the tracks of the dozer.

The trial continues.

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