A CONTRACTOR has been jailed after forging the signature of a worker who had fallen off an unstable roof and died.

Mark Bray, from Chapelford, was handed two years behind bars today, Tuesday, over the death of roofer Kenneth Drake – who plummeted six metres to his death at a building site in Rochdale in September 2015.

Manchester Crown Square Crown Court heard that the 54-year-old, known as Ken, suffered a fractured skull and brain injury after falling through the fragile roof he was working on.

High Ridge Roofing Solutions Limited had originally been contracted in order to replace the roof, work which was then subcontracted out to Roofing Consultants Ltd in Risley.

Bray, of Louisiana Drive, was responsible for the safety of employees on the site in his role as contracts manager of the latter company.

But an investigation by Greater Manchester Police and the Health and Safety Executive found ‘fundamental breaches of duty on the part of those who organised the work’.

These breaches meant that ‘the workforce was exposed to risks which they should never have been exposed to and led directly to Mr Drake’s death’.

Industry experts who assessed the job found that netting which could have been installed at a cost of £1,250 would have prevented the tragic fall.

But Bray ‘insisted’ that netting was not needed, and even forged Mr Drake’s signature on a risk assessment after his death ‘in order to mislead and attempt to justify his actions’.

The 48-year-old admitted health and safety offences and perverting the course of justice during an earlier court hearing.

Speaking after the sentencing, Mr Drake’s wife Ingrid paid tribute to her late husband.

She said: “Ken was an amazing husband and stepfather, he was a loving, caring man who made everyone laugh.

“We shared so many memories, and its heart-breaking to know we can’t share any more – it’s sad to know he’s missed out on such magical moments in our lives, like watching our daughter get married.

“He’s truly missed by everyone and always will be.

“We love you very much.

“I would like to thank everyone that has worked on Ken’s case, I know they have worked hard to bring about this prosecution.”

Whitefield Court-based Roofing Consulants Ltd admitted health and safety offences and was fined £100,000 and told to pay £30,000 in court costs.

High Ridge Roofing Solutions Ltd was found guilty of breaching construction regulations and fined £12,000, also being told to pay costs of £33,000.

Detective chief inspector Richard Eales, of GMP’s major incident team, said: “First and foremost, all of our thoughts are with Ken’s loving family who have been left absolutely devastated by his death.

“I hope today they are provided with a measure of comfort at the end of what has been a very long and difficult road.

“Today’s result should serve as a stark reminder to those who employ people and have a responsibility to look after them in the workplace – cutting corners in this way is dangerous and can ultimately rip families apart, because it was these actions that had absolutely cataclysmic consequences and led to Ken’s unnecessary and preventable death.

“The fact that Bray went on to forge Ken’s signature demonstrates that, rather than thinking about Ken and his loved ones in the aftermath of his death, Bray’s sole thought was to cover his tracks and prevent the investigation from establishing what had occurred.

“This has been a thorough and meticulous investigation led by a dedicated team of detectives from our major incident team, as well as professionals from the HSE, and following today’s result I would like to publicly thank them for their commitment.

“My final words are reserved for Ken and I hope this sentence, and the fact Bray will have to serve a prison sentence, serves as justice for him and his family.”

HSE principle inspector Laura Royales added: “This was an entirely foreseeable and preventable incident which resulted in a tragic and needless loss of life.

“Falls from height remain the biggest cause of workplace fatalities in the UK construction industry.

“It is vital that those involved in planning, managing and carrying out work at height understand the risks and identify and implement suitable control measures to prevent injury.

“Had such steps been taken in this case, this incident would not have occurred.”