Four year old died after stonemason installed fireplace negligently

A four year old died when a negligently installed fireplace toppled onto him.

A stonemason, Kristian Childs, has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive.

Mr Childs, trading as KD Childs Stonework of Luton, was subcontracted to install stone fireplaces in new homes, which included the one in Coulthard Close in Towcester, which was bought by David and Gail Green.

The moved into the property in June 2003 with son Matthew and older daughter Rachel.

In October 2005, the 47kg mantel from the fireplace came away from the wall without any warning, falling onto Matthew. He was airlifted to hospital, but died of his injuries shortly after.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated and found that Mr Childs had secured the mantel with small patches of mortar rather than mechanical fixings.

Northampton Crown Court were told that Mr Childs was aware of the need to ensure fireplaces were properly secured following two other fireplaces he had fitted at other properties having been found to be insecure by the homeowners.

Vicki Wright, personal injury lawyer at Swain & Co says, “This is a tragic incident that could have so easily been prevented.”

“Mr Childs was aware of the risks of falling fireplaces, and yet failed to take the correct steps to ensure the fireplaces he was installing were safe. He was clearly negligent.”

Alan Craddock, Head of Operations for the HSE’s Midlands construction division says, “Every stone used in a fireplace must have a mechanical fixing, such as a steel bracket and screws, to hold them together and against the wall. A few small patches of mortar is not acceptable because it cannot guarantee a secure bond.”


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