Demolition contractor Keltbray has been fined £200 000 after two men fell to their deaths on a site in the City of London. Judge Elfer, who heard the case at Southwark Crown Court, said the Holborn-based firm was guilty of a gross breach of safety rules.

The judge added that he hoped the size of the fine would send a message that lapses in safety would not be tolerated.

The court was told that Patrick Fraher, 28, from Waterford, Ireland, and William Cummins, 28, from Cork, had fallen from the eighth storey of a building while working without safety harnesses. Even if harnesses had been provided, there would have been nothing to attach them to, the court heard.

Counsel for Keltbray argued that the incident was a one-off instance of established safety procedures breaking down and should not be taken as typical of the firm’s working practices.

The fine was deferred for 28 days pending a possible appeal. Keltbray was ordered to pay £8000 costs.