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Construction Boss Charged with Manslaughter

Monday, November 21, 2016

One of the workers crushed to death by a falling concrete slab at Eagle Farm allegedly sent a text message to his boss before his death, raising concerns that the panels did not fit onto the pads.

Details of the alleged chain of events that led to Humberto Leite, 55, and Ashley Morris being crushed to death inside the pit on October 6 were revealed as construction boss Claudio D’Alessandro faced a Brisbane court charged with their manslaughter.

He was granted bail subject to a string of conditions, including that he post a $5000 surety.

The court heard the only method of escape for the victims was via one steel extension ladder from the bottom of the pit.

According to a police affidavit tendered to the court, D’Alessandro was in charge of the pair at 3.40pm on October 6 as the fourth wall, weighing about 10 tonnes, was lowered into position.

“Panel two began to fall forward and the two workers managed to scale the ladder on that wall and ride it down and jumped onto its back as it fell,” police allege.

“The failure of this wall caused another wall, panel one, to immediately fall forward as it was no longer supported.”

“The two workers were unable to escape the second wall falling and were crushed to death in between the two panels.”

Police conducting their investigation into two workers crushed by a concrete slab. Photo: Jodie Richter
Police say investigations have revealed the bracing used across the connecting walls was “grossly inadequate and never capable of supporting the walls”.

Police prosecutor Tammy Durre-Bauer told the court D’Alessandro was the sole person giving instructions on the site about ”panel dimensions and the erecting protocols”.

One of the workers crushed to death by a falling concrete slab at Eagle Farm allegedly sent a text message to his boss before his death, raising concerns that the panels did not fit onto the pads.

Defence lawyer Michael Purcell said the police investigation was still in its “infancy” and there was a “long road” to go.

“This is an industrial accident. The allegation here is negligent work practices,” he said.

The matter will return to court on December 12.

EARLIER: A CONSTRUCTION boss charged over the deaths of two workers crushed at Eagle Farm has won a bid for bail on a $5000 surety.

Claudio D’Alessandro, 58, who appeared in the Brisbane Magistrates Court today on two charges of manslaughter., was nabbed at Brisbane Airport on Tuesday as he tried to board a flight to the Phillipines.

His defence lawyer said it was set to be a short holiday as his client - who, at the time, was under “no restraint” - had bought a return ticket for four days later.

He faced the court this morning, where he was granted bail subject to a string of conditions including stumping up a $5000 surety.

Humberto Leite, 55, and Ashley Morris, 34, were in a construction pit when the 10-tonne slab fell on them at Eagle Farm Racecourse on October 6.

The only means of escape available to them was a steel extension ladder and no braces were in place on the concrete panels, the court was told.

D’Alessandro, who has more than 40 years experience in the building industry, was overseeing the project and employed both men.

He is accused of negligent work processes which led to the industrial accident.

Magistrate Anthony Gett granted him bail and said he does not consider him a flight risk.

“It is clear that the allegation concerns the defendant’s criminal responsibility as director and supervisor to the two deceased workers,” he added.

“The matter is still in the investigation stage and significant investigations are to continue.” D’Alessandro sat in the dock with his hands clasped in his lap throughout the hearing.

The tragic incident occurred on the Eagle Farm course’s infield which is the major part of a redevelopment, including the construction of 420 horse stables.

The case has been adjourned to December 12.

Article Courtesy of the Courier Mail
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