Sign Contractor Fined for Wall Collapse 3

Friday, May 22nd, 2015
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A subcontractor hired to attach cladding to a Melbourne brick wall that collapsed and killed three people has been fined $7,500 but will pay $33,500 in legal costs.

Jonathon Clyde Westmoreland, 30, has been found guilty of performing works without a building permit after a brick wall on a Grocon-owned site collapsed in March 2013.

Teenage siblings Alexander and Bridget Jones and Frenchwoman Marie-Faith Fiawoo, 33, were killed when a 15-metre section of brick wall fell onto Swanston Street in the CBD.

In sentencing Westmoreland, Melbourne magistrate Carolene Gwynn said his offending was at the mid-to-bottom level, and in imposing the fine she was not dealing with the fact the wall collapsed.

“It’s not being suggested that he take any responsibility for what happened on March 28,” Ms Gwynn said.

She said the breach was inadvertent, rather than wilful behaviour, and Westmoreland was of otherwise good character.

“I am satisfied he did not turn his mind to the need for a building permit,” Ms Gwynn said.

“He did not deem it his responsibility.”

Prosecutor Paul Holdenson said Ms Gwynn should take into account the fact the building works were carried out for profit by a person who should have known better.

“The existence of a building permit could easily have been checked,” Mr Holdenson said.

Defence barrister Peter Haag said Westmoreland was at the margins of supervisory responsibility, and that he was acting under the instruction of others.

He said site-owners Grocon didn’t bother getting a permit.

“They know their responsibility under the act, they’ve been building in the city for decades,” Mr Haag said.

Grocon Victoria Street was fined $250,000 for its role over the fatal wall collapse.

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  1. Phil Morey

    The lateral load capacity of the brickwork would have been easy to calculate using AS3700 Don't Grocon have any engineers?

    • Chris Harris

      Too arrogant, too stupid, lack of careful consideration, assuming it was someone else's responsibility, assuming because the wall was standing it was all ok.
      I am shocked the sign subcontractor received any fine.

  2. Graeme Doreian

    The facts revealed in this article sees a travesty of justice and a complete disregard for life. A FINE, where was culpable manslaughter or something.

    After the demolition of existing buildings and when the area was cleared did the council or nominated building surveyor inspect the remaining wall for safety and signoff on this issue immediately

    Most brick walls are "shored/propped " in various formats so they are not blown over or to allow further building works around them for workers and the public safety.

    I suspect there was no effort to "shore/prop " the wall, especially on the street side of the wall, as evidenced in media release photos, and that was the building surveyor and builders responsibility.

    Why didn't council who issued the permit, or building surveyor advise the owner/builder to comply with the original permit conditions issued for the development especially the wall left standing.

    An attempt to not reveal the real issues, the magistrate and legal team should be very wary of not being party to a travesty of justice with legal repercussions. This trial has been a cover up of the REAL facts.
    Where is the union on this issue? Aren't they there to protect innocent workers from the boss?