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Jailed: Company director whose worker was crushed to death at Barking warehouse

PUBLISHED: 13:24 04 February 2020 | UPDATED: 13:24 04 February 2020

Han Rao has been found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence. Picture: Jon King

Han Rao has been found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence. Picture: Jon King

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A company director whose warehouseman was crushed to death at work has been jailed for four years.

Chinese national Han Rao, whose firm TLW (UK) Ltd is based in Renwick Road, Barking, was warned of safety failings on the day skyscraper window panes toppled over onto Marian Iancu in November 2015.

Judge Rebecca Poulet, sentencing Rao at the Old Bailey on Tuesday, February 4, said: "Marian was a hardworking and thoroughly good and dependable employee.

"He liked to finish a job quickly. In effect you took advantage of his hardworking ethic."

The 34-year old father of two from Naomi Street, Lewisham was warned of the danger by a "horrified" Ralf Rottele, a senior manager for skyscraper facade firm Yuanda, who visited TLW's premises the day Marian died.

He told Rao it was unsafe for the Romanian national to do the job of moving the panes, each weighing 200kg, into a skip.

However, Rao didn't tell Marian to stop, instead instructing him to be careful.

He even went out and bought a hammer so his men could carry on with the job.

Marian and a colleague were left to carry out the task which Chinese firm Yuanda had recommended at least six workers could do safely in a risk assessment.

Rao had a verbal agreement to dispose of the damaged windows for the multinational which was importing windows for the City's Cheesegrater building.

Judge Poulet said: "Any work involving the moving and breaking up of these panels was intrinsically and obviously dangerous.

"The movement of panels that each weighed over 200 kilos was a job which required careful risk assessment and supervision. You provided neither."

Marian's brother, Adrian, a Crossrail supervisor, said: "A black hole remains since this incident. Marian and I were inseparable.

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"Thank you Marian for being a great person, uncle and brother."

During sentencing it emerged that Rao was only charged with manslaughter following calls for a review from Marian's family.

The 39-year old suffered broken ribs, bruising and damage to his heart, liver and spleen in the "tragic" incident.

Judge Poulet said: "It was some comfort to hear from the pathologist that he would have lost consciousness within about 10 seconds and died soon after."

Before sentencing, Graham Trembath QC, representing Rao, described the four-year old case as "unusual", quoting one trial witness who had said "all parties attract criticism in this case".

But Judge Poulet said Yuanda had expected the work to be done by its own team and "that would have made all the difference".

"Yuanda made it clear they would carry out the task," Judge Poulet said.

"[Yuanda] completed a full risk assessment and method statement for the work.
"Despite all the careful arrangements you [Rao] decided to get started on the task.

"We will never know why."

The judge accepted Rao was not motivated by gain but had disregarded all aspects of health and safety.

Stillages, upright frames on which the panes were delivered to TLW and found not to be up to the task, were under Rao's control on the firm's premises, and not Yuanda's, the court heard.

Rao was sentenced to four years after being found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence at the Old Bailey on January 30. He was banned from acting as a company director for six years.

For breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 he was sentenced to 15 months to run concurrently.

The sentencing of TLW under the same act was adjourned until April 3 to allow for a full investigation of the firm's accounts.

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