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Boy's death leads to $60,000 payout

SALLY KIDSON
Last updated 15:07 05/12/2012
Glenn Te Miha-Barlow
MARTIN DE RUYTER/Fairfax NZ

KILLED: Glenn Te Miha-Barlow, 5, died when a log from this pile rolled on to him at Motueka High School.

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Motueka High School Board of Trustees has been ordered to pay $60,000 in reparations following the death of a five-year-old boy crushed by a falling log in the school's grounds.

Glenn Te Miha-Barlow, 5, died on February 9 when a 519kg log rolled on top of him from a stack of logs piled in the school's grounds.

The school's board of trustees were charged under the Health and Safety Act for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure that the actions of any employee at work harmed another person.

Board members were in the Nelson District Court for today's sentencing.

Glenn's father Todd Barlow and grandmother Rae Stamp were also in court. Both had prepared dignified and moving victim impact statements which Mrs Stamp read.

She said it had been an extremely sad and difficult time for the family but she had been grieving doubly because she had lost her beautiful, dear little grandson and it had been so hard to witness the deep anguish her son was going through.

Mr Barlow statement made it clear he had no malice towards the school and staff had been very kind to him and his family. He spoke of the excruciating and unbearable pain from losing his sweet, endearing, affectionate, curious and bright son.

"The passing of my dear Glenn has left a huge hole in my heart that can never be filled. I had been blessed with four beautiful children and now one is lost. This is an unimaginable loss no parent expects to face. Nothing will ever be the same. Part of us has gone with him."

The summary of facts shows that the school had identified it had to cut down five poplar trees on its grounds as they were rotten and unsafe.

The school's groundsman and executive officer agreed that the logs could be sold to recoup some of the cost of felling the trees.

A contractor fell the trees and the next day the groundsman cleaned up the site and stacked the logs into two stacks with his forklift.

Large and small logs were in the stacks.

At 5.45pm that day a group of children, including two of Glenn's sisters, started playing on the logs.

A girl jumped onto a log which rolled down the stack striking and crushing Glenn who was at the bottom of the stack.

The lawyer for the Ministry of Building Innovation and Employment Andrew Gane said the school should have taken steps to ensure the stacking of the logs by the groundsman did not harm Glenn or anyone else.

Among the steps the school should have taken was to ensure the groundsman was trained to stack the logs and engaging a contractor to manage the entire operation from the when the trees were felled until they left the school.

The school's board of trustee's chairman Ian Palmer said it was a great sense of sadness it found itself in court.

Addressing Glenn's family he said the board of trustees accepted its health and safety systems which it thought were robust were inadequate,

He gave the family his assurance the school would never forget Glenn and the matter was not closed. It was undertaking a case study and would work with other schools to ensure a similar tragedy did not occur on school grounds.

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Judge Tony Zohrab said the victim impact statements were very very moving and the whole family must be suffering greatly.

Judge Zohrab said everyone working to cut down the trees had been working in the best interests of the school to deal with the cost of having to cut down the trees, but sometimes best intentions were not good enough.

Judge Zohrab said the culpability of the school was towards the higher end of medium.

- Nelson

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