Mum to sue building firm after ten-year-old fell to death down manhole

Contractors RJ McLeod were fined £860,000 after Shea Ryan fell more than six metres to his death.

Mum to sue building firm after boy fell to death down manhole in Glasgow

The mother of a boy who fell to his death down an open manhole on a construction site is suing the building firm that failed to implement safety measures.

Earlier this year, contractors RJ McLeod was fined £860,000 after Shea Ryan was able to enter the site in Glasgow’s Drumchapel on July 16, 2020.

The ten-year-old bypassed insecure fencing before sitting beside an open manhole situated 60 metres from a children’s play park. 

Shea said to other kids there that he “wanted to go down.”

Shea fell more than six metres down the manhole. (Image: HSE)HSE via Supplied

In April, prosecutor Saud Ul-Hassan told Glasgow Sheriff Court: “Shea began to climb down the ladder where he slipped and fell.

“From the position of the ladder, he fell to the water below.”

The distance between the ladder and the bottom of the manhole was 6.3 metres.

The other children raised the alarm and Shea’s stepdad Graham Patterson entered the manhole.

Police attended and officers found Shea lying on his back with Mr Patterson and a neighbour beside him.

Mr Ul-Hassan said: “Shea was seen to have severe head injuries, cold to the touch and was not breathing.”

An officer brought Shea to the surface and performed CPR before he was taken to the Royal Children’s Hospital, but he could not be saved.

The cause of death was noted as “head injury and drowning.”

Shea’s mum Joanne Ferguson’s civil case against RJ McLeod is to be handled by solicitors Digby Brown.

She has not made a statement since the civil action was confirmed. But in April she said: “My son is not here and that destroys me every day.

“That totally avoidable accident has ruined my life and my kid’s lives – I don’t even feel human anymore at times because of the grief.

“Wee Shea is missed every second of every day and his family and friends will always love and miss him.”

RJ McLeod – whose most recent turnover was £194m with a profit of £25m – had taken temporary possession from another company ABV.

It was carrying out work on a Glasgow City Council project on surface water to reduce flooding in the area.

In April 2023, the company pled guilty to failing to ensure people not in its employment were not exposed to risks to their health and safety.


A company has been fined £860,000 after a 10-year-old boy died after falling six meters down a manhole.#scotland #news #scotlandnews #drumchapel #rjmacleod

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An earlier hearing was told that the company “failed to undertake a full assessment on the work area and consider its close proximity to the nearby play park and the risk of children being attracted to the site as well as identify the measures to prevent unauthorised access.”

The firm was found to have failed to properly secure the site near a children's park. (Image: HSE)

The company was also found not to have kept the existing measures under review.

It was further criticised for not having double fencing on the area of the site.

The hearing was told that the fencing had been subject to vandalism in the past and that the site had been breached on six occasions.

The fencing had been bolstered in the past but this did not happen at the area near the play park.

The reason for the manhole cover being removed has not been determined.

Since the incident, the company has increased its fencing measures and a log has been formed. Manhole covers are also subject to checks.

Motion sensors and solar powered security cameras are also installed.

It was revealed a fatal accident inquiry into Shea’s death will take place at a later date.

Paul Marshall, defending, told the earlier hearing: “I extend deepest sympathies for the tragic loss to the family of Shea.

“The company takes safety very seriously and it is a matter of great concern and remorse that he lost his life for the breach which the company accepts responsibility.

“The company accepts responsibility for the breaches libelled which was failing to carry out a sufficient risk assessment on people gaining access to the construction site.”

In April, a spokesperson for RJ McLeod said it “fully accepted” the ruling, adding a “comprehensive review” of the incident had since been carried out.

“RJ McLeod (Contractors) Limited fully accepts the outcome and ruling of the court. We extend our
condolences to the family of Shea Ryan,” they said.

“We have taken action to protect against the risk of a re-occurrence. We fully co-operated and engaged with the investigating authorities and note that the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service explained in court the actions we took immediately following the incident.

“Safety is always our top priority and site safety updates are implemented across the business on an ongoing basis.”

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