A COMPANY director who was illegally running a firm when a worker was crushed to death is today facing prison.

Paul O’Boyle has been warned he could be sent to jail for fraud offences and breaching a string of health and safety regulations following the death of employee Ian Middlemiss.

The 40-year-old sand moulder, who lived in Southampton, died when a two-tonne steel sandbox fell on him while working for Aztec Art Foundry in Lasham, north Hampshire.

Daily Echo:

The two-tonne steel sandbox that crushed Ian Middlemiss

Now, after a four year wait, his family is set to see justice as the case finally comes to an end in court.

Mr O’Boyle, of Andover, was a disqualified company director and was illegally managing the now insolvent Aztech BA Ltd when 40-year-old Mr Middlemiss was killed by the falling box.

He will be sentenced along with accomplice businessman Russell Lee, who lives in Southampton, after entering guilty pleas to various charges at an earlier hearing in Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court.

Pleas were also entered on behalf of the business, Aztech BA Ltd, by its administrators MLG Associates of Finchampstead, near Wokingham, Berkshire.

Mr O’Boyle admitted four breaches of Section 13 of the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1996, a breach of the Fraud Act 2006, and a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, which relates to the death of Mr Middlemiss.

Mr O’Boyle could face up to two years in prison and a fine for breaching the Company Directors Disqualification Act.

Mr Lee admitted aiding and abetting Mr O’Boyle in his disqualification and similar breach of Health and Safety at Work Act.

Aztech BA Ltd pleaded guilty to three breaches of the Health and Safety Act.

They will be sentenced at Winchester Crown Court later today.

As previously reported, the death of 40-year-old Mr Middlemiss stunned staff at the firm, which makes bronze sculptures.

He was crushed to death when the sandbox came away from lifting chains of the crane he was using.

Emergency services raced to the premises to reports of a male who had crush injuries but Mr Middlemiss passed away at the scene.

Hampshire police launched a joint probe at that time with the Health and Safety Executive, to determine exactly how he had died.

The prosecution was then brought by the HSE, the Department of Business, Industry and Skills, and the Insolvency Service after the offences came to light following an investigation.

At the time, a statement issued by the firm said: “We are all in shock and are very upset about the tragic accident, and our deepest sympathies go out to his family and friends.”

A death announcement from Mr Middlemiss’ family in the Daily Echo said he had died “doing the job he loved” and was described as a “free spirit who lived his life his way”.