Company boss convicted of manslaughter after employee crushed to death by half a tonne of glass

A company boss is facing jail after he was convicted of the manslaughter of a Romanian employee who was crushed to death by nearly half a tonne of glass panels. Forklift driver Marian Iancu, 39, was trapped between 400 kilos of glass and his truck at the TLW (UK) logistics company in at the Rippleside Commercial Estate, in Barking. Colleagues tried to rescue Leyton resident Mr Iancu but he had suffered terrible injuries to his chest, fracturing his sternum and rupturing his heart and was pronounced dead at the scene on November 16, 2015.

Company director Han Rao, 34, who moved to the UK from China in 2010, had failed to ensure that the panels were safely stored and could not fall on a worker. He insisted that he had told Mr Iancu not to move the panels because it was dangerous, but the jury of seven women and five men found his negligence caused the death of the fork lift driver. Rao, who was aided by an interpreter, showed no trace of emotion as the verdict was announced.

Judge Rebecca Poulet warned Rao he is facing jail and said: “It is likely that some sort of immediate custodial sentence is imposed.” TLW (UK) boasts of its ‘professional and reliable approach’ in moving and storing logistics. But the company was also found guilty of failing to ensure Mr Iancu’s safety.

The glass was being unloaded from a metal cage or stillage when the tragedy took place. “It happened as Mr Iancu started to unload the third stillage,” said prosecutor Andrew Thomas. “He moved it into place using the forklift truck and then with the forklift truck still in place went around to the front.

“As Mr Iancu releases the strap the two panels topple forward and pin Mr Iancu against the truck. “The panels struck him across the chest. At the time of the incident there was only a single strap holding the panels in place and he released that strap.

“Those two panels fell back towards Mr Iancu and trapped him against the front of the forklift truck. “The glass panels, bearing in mind Mr Iancu was stood at ground level, would have been about five inches above head height. “There is a metal bar that sits above the forks so that when the panels came back Mr Iancu was pushed back and trapped between the front of the forklift truck and the panels.

“Mr Iancu was by now lying on the ground and emergency services were called. First of all two police officers arrived, then a team of paramedics and then an air ambulance. “CPR and other life saving treatments was attempted but it became obvious it was too late and Mr Iancu was pronounced dead by the doctor at the scene.”

Doctors also discovered he had seven separate rib fractures and a major vein connected to his heart had been ruptured preventing the flow of blood and oxygen to his head causing asphyxiation. Rao, of Naomi Street, Deptford, southeast London, denied but was convicted of manslaughter by gross negligence. He and his company also denied but were convicted of failing to ensure safety at work.

Rao was bailed ahead of sentence on February 4.

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