Dale Pike has been sentenced to 2 years and 8 months at Cardiff Crown Court following the death of 29 year old Gareth Pugh at Peterstone Lakes Golf Club.
Dale Pike was a founder and partner in a company called ‘Boss Golf Balls’. This was a business venture that searched for golf balls that were submerged in lakes and other bodies of water on golf courses. Gareth Pugh, was employed on an adhoc basis, for a small cash payment, by Boss Golf Balls to search for submerged golf balls. These were then collected, washed and sold online.
In February 2016, Dale Pike was observing as Gareth Pugh was diving in a lake at Peterstone Lakes Golf Course. By around 12.30pm, it became clear to Dale that something had gone wrong. It seems he noticed that the previously intermittent stream of bubbles coming to the surface, were now constant and that the inflatable carrying the compressor had floated away to the edge of the lake. All that is certain is that Gareth Pugh lost his mask and airway whilst he was at the bottom of the lake.
Dale Pike flagged down the Green Keepers who telephoned the clubhouse requesting that they ring the Emergency Services. They attempted an unsuccessful search while they waited for the Emergency Services. It appears that the ring with the compressor may have floated away from Gareth Pugh after he lost his airway, and his precise whereabouts were therefore unknown. Using a boat, the Emergency Services eventually managed to retrieve Gareth Pugh, following a prolonged search, by which time he had been submerged for approximately 70 minutes. He could not be resuscitated.
DS Dave Trew who led the investigation said, “The activity which the defendant engaged in was an activity regulated as a ‘commercial activity’ by HSE rules and guidance. The rules and guidance which were known to the defendant, were breached, and these breaches led to the death of Gareth Pugh. These breaches amounted to behaviour which was grossly negligent. The post-mortem report found nothing to indicate that his death was caused by anything other than by immersion.”
Senior Investigating Officer Leanne Brustad said: “These cases are thankfully very rare, however, for the family of Gareth this has obviously been a very distressing and traumatic time and our thoughts remain with them. This has been a complex and thorough investigation which has taken place over the last year. We have worked closely with colleagues in the Health and Safety Executive and Newport City Council and I would like to thank all the officers and staff involved for their commitment and dedication throughout. I hope the result today helps to provide a little comfort to the family of Gareth, and will help them to move forward with their lives.”
A spokesperson from the HSE said: “While this was a police investigation and a local authority prosecution, HSE provided the support of diving specialists. This was a real team effort following the death of a father and popular community member and we are proud to have played our part. This case is a potentially significant outcome within the diving industry.”
Councillor Ray Truman, Newport City Council’s cabinet member for licensing and regulation, said: “Firstly, our thoughts are with the family of Gareth Pugh in what has been an extremely difficult time. Businesses and employers must take their health and safety responsibilities very seriously otherwise such tragic incidents can occur. We would like to take this opportunity to thank our colleagues in Gwent Police and the Health and Safety Executive for the work undertaken on this case and their commitment throughout.”
Source – HSE