Council and construction company fined following death of 24-year-old worker during Storm-Ali

Date published: 26 March 2024

Following an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI), Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, and Lagan Construction Limited, Belfast have been fined for breaches of health and safety legislation.

The prosecutions followed the death of Matthew Campbell, a 24-year-old electrical engineer, who was struck by a falling tree when working at Slieve Gullion Forest Park, Newry on 19 September 2018.

Today at Newry Crown Court, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council was fined £20,000, and Lagan Construction Limited was fined £30,000. Both employers failed to make a suitable and sufficient risk assessment. The Council also failed to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety of non-employees.

Speaking after the hearing, Katrina Murphy, an HSENI Inspector said, “This tragic incident needlessly claimed the life of a young man who was working in an area populated with mature trees during a severe weather event.

“All employers need to assess the risk from the effect of potential storm conditions on their work activities and take necessary precautions.”

It was also established that both employers were in receipt of Met Office weather warnings advising of a strengthening storm with the potential to cause danger to life. Ms Murphy added: “Weather warnings should always be considered. They are important and are designed to let people know what the impacts may be of severe weather, including strong winds.” 

The investigation found that Mr Campbell, an employee of Lagan Construction Limited, was fatally injured when a large, 200-year-old beech tree was uprooted by strong winds during ‘Storm Ali' in September 2018. The beech tree fell on Matthew Campbell while he was working near to the entrance of the forest park which was under the management and control of the Council.

The ongoing work was part of a water mains rehabilitation project designed to improve water pressure in the forest park café and amenities. Mr Campbell’s line manager was also seriously injured by the falling tree.

Further information on health and safety advice during storms and bad weather can be found online at:

Notes to editors: 

     1. Breaches and fines for Newry, Mourne and Down District Council are             as follows:

        a) Article 5(1) of the Health and Safety at Work (Northern Ireland)                      Order 1978: fine £10,000;

        b) Regulation 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work                   Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000: fine £10,000.

     2. Breaches and fines for Lagan Construction Limited are as follows:

          a) Regulation 3(1)(a) of the Management of Health and Safety at                    Work Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000: fine £30,000.

     3. Storm Ali was the first named storm of the 2018/19 storm season. It             brought widespread strong winds and heavy rains, with the strongest           gusts being recorded in Ireland, Northern Ireland, and western                         Scotland.

      4. For media enquiries please contact: HSENI Press Office on 028 9024            3249 or email For out of office hours please                  contact the Duty Press Officer on 028 9037 8110.

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