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Director jailed after employees burn to death

11 July 2018

When using flammable solvents take note of the warnings.

Simon Thomerson, Director of Clearview Design & Construction Ltd, has been jailed for eight months after pleading guilty to a health & safety breach that resulted in two brothers working for the company being burnt to death.

Ardian and Jashar Lamallari had been employed as labourers to clean floors using thinners. They were working inside an industrial unit on 3 October 2015 when fumes from the thinners caught alight explosively. The brothers suffered near 100% burns and died within 12 hours of the incident. A third man who was working with them also suffered severe burns, but survived.

Luton Crown Court heard this month (9 July) how Simon Thomerson, the sole owner and Director of Clearview Design & Construction Ltd, had been contracted by the owners of an industrial park in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, to refurbish several of the units. It was in one of those units that the brothers were burnt alive.

A joint investigation into the incident by Hertfordshire Police and the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) determined that Mr Thomerson had supplied the three men with several litres of highly flammable 'thinners' that they poured on to the floor of one of the units to remove old carpet tile adhesive.

The investigation found that Mr Thomerson had given no serious consideration to the safe use of the thinners, despite the obvious warnings on the containers. The vapour spread over an area of about 100m2 - half the size of a tennis court. It is not known what caused it to ignite as there were several possibilities.

In court, Simon Thomerson of Sutherland Avenue, London, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He was sentenced to eight months in prison and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £170.

Detective Inspector Justine Jenkins from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire & Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit, who led the investigation, says: “This was a tragic event that led to the death of two men in absolutely horrific circumstances. We have worked closely with HSE and our other partner agencies to ensure that the failings by those in control of the site were identified and prosecuted and are satisfied that the sentence delivered today reflects the seriousness of those failings.”

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Paul Hoskins said: “This tragic incident led to the wholly avoidable death of two brothers, Ardian and Jashar, destroying the lives of their young families. The risks of using highly flammable liquids are well known and employers should make sure they properly assess the risks from such substances - and use safer alternatives where possible. Where the use of flammable solvents is unavoidable, then the method and environment must be strictly controlled to prevent any ignition.”

In a victim impact statement, Zana Lamallari, Jashar's wife, said: “After the death of my husband my family life has completely been destroyed. My children’s and my future has been completely destroyed. He was everything to me.”

And Ismete Lamallari, Ardian's wife, said: “The impact in my life is so big. My family has been destroyed; my home, everything. My husband was very loving towards the children and everyone. He was an honest worker.”


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