SULLY Sports and Leisure Club has been fined £20,000 for failing health and safety laws that led to the death of a man falling from a low wall.
The court heard during a week-long trial that Robert 'Bob' Kemp died after falling from a low wall following a party held at the South Road venue on June 30, 2012.
His family has branded the fine as 'disgusting'.
The club, owned by Barry Plastics Sports and Leisure Limited, was found guilty of failing to provide adequate lighting of the patio area of the club in breach of health and safety laws.
As well as the fine the club must also pay prosecution costs of £20,000 after appearing for sentencing at Newport Crown Court on Tuesday, July 15.
The defence, led by barrister Ian Dixey, who specialises in health and safety law, had argued that Mr Kemp was sitting on the wall and fallen off it.
The prosecution argued that the club had breached health and safety laws by failing to provide adequate lighting by the patio area as on the night in question the lights weren't working.
During sentencing barrister Alex Greenwood, who was prosecuting in the case, said that the club “paid lip service to the health and safety issue”.
Ian Dixey, in mitigation, said that the company did usually carry out checks on the premises but “this was something that fell through the net”.
He added that it previously had an “exceptional safety record” and that accidents were “uncommon”.
He added: “The club take this very seriously and were very upset for Mr Kemp’s family.”
In regards to the financial condition of the club he said that it had suffered from the introduction of the smoking ban in 2007, the change in culture in people no longer drinking after playing sports, and the competition of four pubs in the space of a mile.
During sentencing Recorder Ian Murphy QC said that after walking into an unlit patio area of the club near the car park Mr Kemp died after falling about four foot from a wall onto grass.
“He tragically landed in such a way that he sustained very serious damage to his neck and, despite proper medical attention, he died within a week,” he said.
He added that if the lights were working the accident would not have occurred.
He described some of the claims for expenses in the prosecution costs as “eye catching” and said that instead of awarding more than £40,000 he would reduce it to the more “proportionate and reasonable” £20,000.
He added that the £20,000 fine did not reflect the cost of a life, but the cost of failing to comply with health and safety laws.
Both fines must be paid within the next 12 months.
The prosecution had appealed for costs in the region of £40,000, but the Recorder Ian Murphy QC said that he had “raised eyebrows” at some of the expenses that included two hours of travelling at £402 and one hour of typing at £118.
“At eight hours a day and over £900 a day that would amount to nearly £250,000 for a typist for a year,” he said.
He said that he didn’t think some of the expenses were “reasonable” and that when he was considering how much the fine would be he had to bear in mind the financial condition of the club.
Speaking after the case Mr Kemp's daughter Rachael Saddington welcomed the verdict but said the fine didn't reflect the cost of her father's life. "I think it's disgusting for the death of my father.
“I think it’s a bit of an insult to the life of my father.”
She added that she wouldn’t be pursuing compensation through the civil courts as “no money could bring my father back”.
“He died the day before his great grandson’s birthday and he will never see him grow up,” she said.
“Throughout the last two years I have found it really hard to cope with his death.
“Hopefully now that they have been found guilty that will be the end of it.”