The death of a schoolboy who fell down an open manhole "could have been prevented" and has triggered a huge fine for a company.

Shea Ryan, 10, and a group of his friends were able to enter a construction site in Glasgow’s Drumchapel through an insecure fence in July 2020.

While playing, Shea began to climb down the manhole but slipped and fell more than six metres, suffering fatal injuries.

Earlier this week at Glasgow Sheriff Court, RJ McLeod (Contractors) Ltd admitted breaching health and safety laws.

The firm has been fined £800,000 and also ordered to pay a £60,000 victim surcharge.

In a statement released through legal firm Digby Brown, Shea’s mother Joanne Ferguson said: "I am glad RJ McLeod finally admitted guilt.

"My son is not here and that destroys me every day.

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

"I just hope this makes them consider site safety everywhere – not just for RJ McLeod but for companies everywhere because the safety of these places is so important."

The court heard the site was part of a surface water management project being undertaken by Glasgow City Council.

Prior to Shea’s death, contractor RJ McLeod did not have a formal written system for monitoring damage to its perimeter fencing. This meant the company did not have sufficient information to assess ongoing risk at the site.

Debbie Carroll, lead of health and safety investigations at the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, said: "The untimely death of a child is particularly tragic, and our thoughts are with Shea’s family as they continue to deal with the pain they have suffered following his death.

"His death could have been prevented had RJ McLeod (Contractors) Limited put in place suitable and sufficient measures to manage the risk of children accessing the site."

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Ms Carroll added: "This prosecution should remind duty holders that a failure to manage and implement effective measures can have fatal consequences and they will be held accountable for this failure.

"It is important that any learning, to help prevent deaths in a similar situation, is put in the public domain and there will be a Fatal Accident Inquiry into the full circumstances of Shea’s death in due course."

The inquiry will take place at a later date.

Since the tragedy, RJ McLeod (Contractors) Ltd has implemented enhanced measures including new risk assessments, double-line fencing and increased triangulation of fencing, and formal written reporting of the daily and weekend fence checks.

CCTV has also been put in place with motion sensors and manhole covers weighed down by ballast bags.

The firm has been contacted for comment.

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