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'There are children without a father, parents without a son'

ANGLO Coal failed Ian Downes when he was killed working on part of the Grasstree mine that had not been inspected for a year, a court has ruled.

Anglo Coal was fined $284,000 in Brisbane Magistrates Court on Friday after the company pleaded guilty to failing to provide a safe workplace leading to Mr Downes's death.

At about 11.30pm on December 11, 2014, Mr Downes and a colleague were working on an underground wall when part of it came away, striking and killing Mr Downes.

The area had been opened for work despite not having been properly inspected. That part of the mine had been closed and not used for about a year.

The court heard some of the bolts reinforcing the wall were rusted, others were bent and some were missing entirely. Other parts of the wall reinforcement were not properly attached.

Magistrate Nerida Wilson said Anglo had failed Mr Downes.

"It was incumbent on Anglo to make sure the (work area) was not opened until it was inspected and was safe for work," she said.

"He was entitled to believe that he was safe, he was entitled to believe Anglo had carried out its obligations and inspected the area."

Magistrate Wilson accepted Anglo barrister Thomas Bradley's submission that the company should be penalised for the failure to make the area safe - not for Mr Downes's death.

It was the second death in Grasstree mine that year. Anglo was fined $135,000 after pleading guilty to the same offence leading to Paul McGuire's May 2014 death.

Magistrate Wilson said a statement from Mr Downes's wife showed how his death was more than just an industrial event.

"It is safe to say (Mr Downes's wife) is grieving. There are children without a father, parents without a son," she said.

Despite both Mr Bradley and prosecutor Elizabeth Wilson suggesting a $200,000 fine as penalty, the magistrate ruled that amount did not reflect the seriousness of the offence nor that it was Anglo's second conviction for an unsafe workplace causing a death at Grasstree.

But the magistrate accepted the offence would have been more serious if a company intentionally breached the laws or ordered employees to forego safety requirements.

Anglo was fined $284,625 - half the maximum penalty - and a conviction was recorded against the company.

Anglo did not respond to a request for comment, but last week said the company was determined to ensure Mr Downes's death was not repeated.

ARM NEWSDESK

Topics:  anglo american anglo coal court death grasstree mine ian downes workplace death


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