TWO companies have been fined after a roofer plunged to his death while working on a £2.9 million house without scaffolding or a safety harness.

Antony Ockwell – known as Tony – suffered serious head injuries after falling around 30 feet from the roof of a new-build property in Avon Castle Drive, Ringwood, on July 20 2012.

He was airlifted to hospital, but died later that day.

The 42-year-old, who lived with his young family in Southbourne, had been working without safety measures in place at the time of the fatal accident.

Yesterday, representatives from two companies prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive appeared at Bournemouth Crown Court – Verwood-based Quality 1st Services Ltd, which employed Mr Ockwell, and developer E.P. Abley Ltd of Ringwood.

Michael Forster, prosecuting, said roofers working for Quality 1st had been called to the property to fix a leak on July 19 2012.

The owner of the house, Paul Gray, wanted to move in on July 21 – the day after the accident – and “pressure” was allegedly put on Quality 1st to complete the work on time.

Representatives acting for Quality 1st said the company was told scaffolding would be provided by E.P. Abley. However, the scaffolding available was allegedly “unsuitable”.

No further risk assessment was made and Mr Ockwell and a colleague began working on the edge of the flat roof before he fell at 12.40pm, it was heard.

“Mr Ockwell and Mr Burrett leaned over the roof edge to joke how high up they were,” Mr Forster said.

“Mr Ockwell [later] tripped and Mr Burrett warned him to be careful.

“At 12.40pm, Mr Burrett heard Mr Ockwell as he fell over the edge.

“Emergency services were called but he sadly didn’t survive the fall.”

A victim impact statement written by Mr Ockwell’s widow Teresa was read aloud to the court by the prosecutor.

“Tony was my soulmate, best friend, confidante and the man who showed me what love was,” she had written.

“I thought we would grow old together. I have lost my world, my best friend, my life.”

E.P. Abley Ltd admitted failing to discharge a duty under section 31 of the Health and Safety Act 1974. The charge refers to July 19 2012, and not the day of the accident. The company was fined £26,600 and ordered to pay costs of £22,500.

Quality 1st admitted contravening a health and safety regulation by failing to ensure work at height was properly planned, appropriately supervised and carried out in a manner which was reasonably safe. The company was ordered to pay a £40,000 fine and costs of £17,500.

Since Mr Ockwell’s death, E.P. Abley Ltd has gone into liquidation and is being wound up, while Quality 1st faces significant financial struggles, the court heard.

Mr Forster admitted any fine is “unlikely” to be paid by E.P. Abley, and will be added to the company’s unsecured debt as part of the liquidation process. Quality 1st will pay the amount in monthly instalments.

Judge Brian Forster QC said: "This case arises out of the tragic death of Tony Ockwell on July 20 2012.

"He was an experienced roof worker. He was employed as a subcontractor by Quality 1st.

"They were carrying out remedial works at a house in Ringwood.

"The site in Avon Castle Drive had been developed by the first defendant, E.P. Abley."

The judge said the "much-loved" family man had been working on the edge of the roof when he fell.

"It is essential that I emphasise no punishment I can impose can replace the deceased or provide any satisfaction for his family," he said.

"No amount of money could match his worth."