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Worlingworth: Family of Matthew Skeet claim court fines ‘undermine the severity of what happened’ the day their son was killed when a wall collapsed at a building site

09:00 22 March 2014

Bethany, Linda and David Skeet wore red to Ipswich Crown Court on Friday, 14 February to signify their broken hearts while hearing the verdict of Matthew Skeet

Bethany, Linda and David Skeet wore red to Ipswich Crown Court on Friday, 14 February to signify their broken hearts while hearing the verdict of Matthew Skeet's death in 2010.

The family of a teenage labourer who was killed on a Suffolk building site have appealed for an MP’s support in their quest for justice.

Matthew Skeet, from MeltonMatthew Skeet, from Melton

Linda and David Skeet were left “disgusted” with the justice system and believe a criminal hearing into safety failings on the Worlingworth site where their son was killed by a falling wall failed to provide the closure they hoped for. Site owner Elliston Steady & Hawes and Barry Potts, a structural engineer, admitted to criminal breaches on the site prior to the death of Matthew Skeet and his employer Kevin Ruffles in October 2010. They were ordered to pay a total of £80,000 as punishment for their failings at Ipswich Crown Court on February 14.

Although Mr Justice Rabinder Singh stressed the failings were not directly attributed to the mens’ deaths, the Skeets were left feeling let down by the law.

“My son was the innocent party in all of this and yet he was wiped off the face of the earth without anyone being held full accountable,” said Mrs Skeet. “I won’t rest until I feel justice has been done.”

In a letter calling for the support of Dan Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, Mr and Mrs Skeet, from Woodbridge, wrote: “It has absolutely disgusted us that the fines imposed by the Crown Court totally undermine the severity of what happened and the pain, loss and suffering as a consequence.

Matthew Skeet, from Melton, was killed by a falling barn wall in Worlingworth in October 2010.Matthew Skeet, from Melton, was killed by a falling barn wall in Worlingworth in October 2010.

“In our mind this was not considered a punishment.”

The letter highlights the family’s frustration at providing detailed evidence and statements to the Crown Prosecution Service only to be “sidelined” when the decision was taken to drop the manslaughter charges.

Further concerns are raised about the Fatality Act, which prevents claims for compensation when a person over the age of 18 dies with no dependents. Though they stress “money does not replace a life nor ease the pain and suffering” Mr and Mrs Skeet claim the law as it stands seems to suggest that “one person’s life is worth more than another”.

The family believe that others in their situation are also concerned about how deaths in the workplace are treated and have called upon Dr Poulter to pursue changes to the law, citing the Dangerous Dogs Act as an example legislation has been instigated in response to a number of deaths.

“As a family we cannot rest or acept the conclusion of our case as it stands - and no doubt there are many other families with the same views and feel os helpless about the law as it stands.”

Mrs Skeet is also keen to hear from other bereaved families to join their campaign. Contact her on 01394 386842.

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