MORRISONS has today been fined £3.5million for failing to prevent the death of an epileptic employee who fell on a shop stairway.
The supermarket giant was found guilty last month following a three-week trial at Gloucester Crown Court.
Matt Gunn, 27, died after suffering a suspected seizure and falling to the floor below at a branch of the supermarket in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, on September 25, 2014.
He fell and suffered catastrophic injuries from which he died in hospital on October 7.
The company had denied three health and safety failures.
The prosecution case against Morrisons was that they knew of Matt’s epileptic condition – he had suffered many previous seizures at work – and should have realised the danger of him having to use the stairs.
His locker should have been moved downstairs to eliminate the risk of a fall, the prosecution said.
The prosecution also argued that because the staff canteen was upstairs Matt should have been allowed to use the public cafe on the ground floor at discount rates.
Following the case, Matt Gunn’s parents spoke of the devastation of losing their much-loved son – and the part the tragedy played in the break-up of their marriage.
His father Steve Gunn said in a statement: “The death of my son has significantly impacted on my life.
“I was very tearful for months afterwards and I was not able to continue working as a charge nurse.
“I had been looking forward to my retirement as I planned to spend more time with Matt.
“His death contributed to my marriage breaking down.
“This journey has lasted for eight years and is still as painful as when it happened.”
Matt’s mum Sue Goellner added: “Matt was intensive care for 12 days. We stayed at the hospital throughout, day and night.
“On the twelfth day, October 7, 2014, the family was called to Matt’s bedside as we were told he was dying.
“We never got the chance to say goodbye to Matt as he never regained consciousness.
“Matt’s traumatic death contributed to the failure of my marriage. No parent should have to bury their child. The accident that caused Matt’s death was so easily avoidable.”
During the trial, Morrisons said in their defence that Matt could have used the lift to the first floor if he had wished – although his dislike of using lifts was known – and they also argued that he was at no more risk of danger on the stairs than anywhere else in the store.
The criminal trial followed an inquest in May 2016 when a jury found that Matt’s death was an accident but added that Morrisons had missed opportunities to keep him safe.
The inquest jury verdict said: “An absence of a structured process and ownership in relationship to managing a person with epilepsy, a lack of communication, no personal risk assessment or the monitoring thereof, and insufficient reporting all led to missed opportunities which may have contributed to Matt’s death.”
Matt, who had been diagnosed with epilepsy when he was four, was found at the foot of the stairs by colleagues Lesley Dixon and Julie Blakeley.
He was taken by Air Ambulance to Southmead Hospital, Bristol, where it was discovered he had skull fractures, other multiple fractures and neurological injuries.
Following surgery he showed no neurological improvement and died 12 days later.