The appellant, Yorkshire Sheeting, had been retained as a subcontractor by Totty Building Services to deal with the sheeting on the roof at commercial premises at Foss Island Road, York. The works contemplated included the replacement of the metal top sheets on the roof and replacement of existing roof lights. One of the self-employed roof gangers hired to carry out the works fell through an uncovered roof light while dragging sheeting backwards and was killed by his fall on to the concrete floor 6 m below. A prosecution was brought against both Totty and Yorkshire Sheeting and both pleaded guilty to an offence framed in terms of Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 in that their "undertaking was not conducted in such a way as to ensure, so far as reasonably practical, the safety of persons not in [their] direct employment". The judge decided that Yorkshire Sheeting carried "the lion’s share of the blame" and that its failings were "manifest, conspicuous and cumulative. A sure receipt for disaster …". He fined Yorkshire Sheeting £100,000 and ordered it to pay prosecution costs of £8,950.00. Totty was fined just £10,000.00 and ordered to pay fewer costs.
Yorkshire Sheeting argued on appeal that the judge erred in his approach to sentencing, and as a result imposed a fine that was manifestly excessive. In particular, it was argued on its behalf that the death was the single aggravating factor, and that there were a significant number of mitigating factors.