A painting firm boss was facing jail today over safety blunders that led to a worker being flung more than 26 feet to his death when a cherry picker was struck by a bus on a Perthshire street.
Kevin Bowie, 38, failed to take any steps to ensure that the machine was segregated from traffic while Mikey McArthur was decorating dormer windows on a busy street in a tourist town, a sheriff ruled.
A single-decker tour bus struck the “knuckle” of the cherry picker – which was protruding into the line of traffic – after the driver misjudged the available clearance.
Mr McArthur, 26, was ejected from the basket by the force of the impact and fell eight meters to the ground in Balkerach Street, Doune, sustaining severe injuries from which he died.
Sheriff Simon Collins QC said Bowie, the owner and sole director of Denny-based Precision Decorating Services (Scotland) Ltd., now defunct, had not informed Stirling Council of the planned work, and had put no measures in place to separate the cherry picker , also known as a mobile elevated working platform, or MEWP, from traffic.
Sheriff Collins said such measures could have included cones, barriers, traffic lights or stop-and-go signals.
He said: “This was a busy high street in a popular tourist town. Tour buses in particular formed a regular part of the vehicular traffic.
“It was obvious, that without effectively segregating it, the MEWP was at risk of being struck by passing vehicles.
“The situation created was an accident waiting to happen.
“There was neglect on the part of the accused, as director and employer.”
The incident occurred on September 27th 2018.
Sheriff Collins said it should also have been “obvious” to Bowie, who had collected Mr McArthur from Stirling Railway Station and driven him to the site on the day of his death, that there was no-one at the location, such as a banksman , to supervise the work after he had dropped Mr McArthur off and left.
Bowie, of Cumbernauld, denied failing to ensure the work was properly planned, appropriately supervised, and carried out in a manner which was, as far as reasonably practicable, safe.
He was found guilty today at the end of a protracted summary trial that began last November (2021) and considered more than 10 days of evidence.
Sheriff Collins said Bowie had sought “in effect” to blame Mr McArthur, an experienced MEWP operator, for the failures.
He said: “I should say I’m not without sympathy for the accused. He and the deceased were good friends, and by his death the accused has suffered loss as well.
“It seems to me he has likely allowed his personal friendship with the deceased, and perhaps also the deceased’s strong personality, to [lead him to] defer to him in what was acceptable in relation to the safe operation of the MEWP.
“The lines of responsibility became blurred.
“He failed to recognize that the buck ultimately stopped with him.”
Sheriff Collins said his decision should “not be taken to mean that Mr Bowie was solely or even mainly responsible” for Mr McArthur’s death.
He said: “The driver of the bus was also clearly at fault for her misjudgment.”
He said why the driver was not prosecuted for causing death by careless driving “is not a matter for me”.
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The court heard any such prosecution had been ruled out, and last year (2021) the bus company, Timberbush Tours, and its insurers were ordered by a judge at the Court of Session to pay Mr McArthur’s family £315,000 damages after admitting liability.
Sentence on Bowie was deferred until June 7th 2022 for a criminal justice social inquiry report and an electronic ankle tag order assessment.
Advocate Neil Shand, defending, reserved mitigation.
Leaving the courtroom, Bowie, who like Mr Arthur, of Glasgow, comes originally from Rothesay, Isle of Bute, shouted: “I should never have listened to him. I loved that boy.”
Mr McArthur’s family sat silently during the outburst.
Some 800 mourners attended the funeral of Mr McArthur, a Celtic fan.
At the following Celtic home game, a two-minute silence was held at the 26th minute of the match, reflecting his age at the time of death, followed by lengthy applause.