A builder was sentenced to three years in prison this week for the death of a 15-year-old worker

Colin Holtom, who traded as Maldon Groundworks, left employee Adam Gosling and his 18-year-old brother to knock down an unstable wall by an outdoor swimming pool in Hadley Wood, north London, in April 2007. While the boys were unsupervised, the wall collapsed on top of the younger brother, who died from head injuries.

Holtom, 64, from Latchingdon in Essex, was said to have a “laissez-faire” attitude to safety. He pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey last week to the charge of manslaughter by gross negligence.

The prosecuting lawyer said Gosling was the youngest person to be killed on a construction site, and that he should not have been employed in that role at his age.

Ucatt welcomed the sentence but said more onerous duties should still be imposed on company directors.

Alan Ritchie, general secretary of the union, said: “It is vital that we do not forget how rare manslaughter convictions are following the death of a worker. It would be a grave injustice if anyone should suggest that today’s verdict was a reason why statutory director’s duties should not be introduced.”