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Golf-ball entrepreneur jailed over death of employee with learning difficulties in lake tragedy

A BUSINESSMAN whose greed killed an employee who had learning difficulties was jailed for 32 months yesterday.

Dale Pike, who ran a company retrieving golf balls lost in lakes and ponds, sent Gareth Pugh into in freezing water at Peterstone golf club, near Newport, south Wales.

Mr Pugh, who had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in addition to learning difficulties, was found dead after being submerged for 70 minutes. He had drowned after losing his breathing equipment.

Cardiff Crown Court heard that Mr Pike had ignored health and safety regulations, including a requirement to use trained divers to carry out the work at a cost of about £1,000 a day.

Instead, he paid Mr Pugh £20-40 a day.

Mr Pugh’s body was found with a bag containing 341 golf balls. The resale price for a golf ball is £1.50.

Prosecutor Philip Evans QC said: “It is clear the defendant knew that the activities he was undertaking were governed by Health and Safety Executive rules and he chose to ignore them.

“This is a case where many of the failings are stark and many of them were simply matters of basic common sense which this defendant chose to ignore.”

Mr Pugh had no previous experience of diving and nor was Mr Pike qualified to supervise him.

Jailing Mr Pike, Judge Keith Thomas told him: “Mr Pugh was an unsuitable contender for the diving work you employed him to undertake, but you allowed him to take those risks to make a quick buck.

“The risk of death or serious injury was obvious to you, but your cavalier attitude towards safety was the cause of Mr Pugh’s death.”


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