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

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 - Credit: Archant

A company director has been found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence after his worker was crushed to death under window panes.

Han Rao, whose firm TLW (UK) Ltd was based in Renwick Road, Barking was convicted following an Old Bailey trial which ended on Thursday, January 30.

He was also found guilty of breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, as was his company TLW (UK) Ltd.

Rao was the sole director and shareholder of the firm which provided storage services for Chinese skyscraper facade firm Yuanda.

The 34-year old from Naomi Street, Lewisham had tasked two of his employees, including 39-year-old Marian Iancu, to break up damaged glazing panels - which were meant to be used on the Cheesegrater building - on November 16, 2015.

Marian and his colleague were tipping the panels, weighing 200kg each, into a skip before smashing them up by hand.

As he unstrapped one panel from its position on a stillage frame it toppled over, crushing him against the truck.

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Despite his colleague's efforts, Marian suffered seven broken ribs and damaged internal organs. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The cause of death was suffocation.

Marian's brother, Adrian Iancu, said: "When I found out the dramatic news, I hoped that it was just a bad joke or a nightmare and the next morning I would wake up and everything would be back to normal.

"Unfortunately, since November 16, 2015 the only thing that has remained for me and my family is a black hole with lots of unanswered questions."

A joint investigation by police and Barking and Dagenham Council found Rao had no health and safety policies and had left them to carry out the work without proper supervision.

The only training Marian had was a day's training in fork lift truck driving when he first joined the firm.

On the day he died, a Yuanda employee visited the site and saw "hardworking" Marian and his colleague working. Concerned, he told them what they were doing was unsafe, but they said Rao told them to do the job.

Yuanda's worker told Rao the men should not be working alone and without adequate protective equipment. The job they were doing was one which should have been done by at least six workers.

Although Rao went outside to speak to Marian and his colleague, he didn't tell them to stop, instead urging them to be careful and wear gloves.

Adrian said in tribute to his brother: "Marian was a simple man. He was a very good son, brother and friend. Someone that you could trust and rely on unconditionally. He always helped out with family, friends and work mates.

"Sadly, Marian never had the opportunity to have a family of his own and on occasions he probably spent more time with my kids than I did because of my work. It was a joy to see him playing: family quality time that we will always remember with pleasure. We will definitely miss all these moments with deep regret in our hearts.

"There are, and will be, lots of regrets from that moment but the biggest regret is that I never had a chance to say 'thank you' for being a great person, uncle, brother.

"Marian will live through our memories but we're already missing simple things like a handshake or a hug or a simple presence. Our lives have been changed forever."

Det Con Andy Jose said: "Rao was woefully unqualified as a manager. Not only did he have no knowledge or experience of his duties, he had not taken any steps to find out what he was required to do in terms of health and safety.

"He had also been made aware that this was a dangerous task but had not done anything to mitigate the risks. In fact, he ignored all of the warning signs put to him, signs which could have prevented Marian's needless death had he acted upon them."

Det Con Jose added that Rao continually failed to admit responsibility putting Marian's distraught family through the pain of a trial.

Rao was found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence and being an officer of a body corporate which committed an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. TLW (UK) Ltd was found guilty of failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees.

Rao will be sentenced on Tuesday, February 4 at the Old Bailey.