Workers fell to their death after firm refused to pay for specialist lifting

Tomasz Procko, 22, and Karol Symanski, 29, were lifting a large sofa up  and over the railing of a first floor balcony of the multi-million pound Belgravia apartment when they were killed in November 2014. The major project in Cadogan Square was behind schedule and over budget after the original £650,000 estimate leapt to between £850,000 and £920,000.

Furniture that needed to be delivered included an 18 stone (115kg), 11 foot sofa, which was too big to be taken up the building's stairs. A specialist transport company, Jayhawk, had offered to deliver the sofa using an outside elevator for a total cost of £848. Martinisation (London) Limited (MLL) boss Martin Gutaj, 43, did not accept the quote, writing in an  email, "if your delivery guy wants additional 1k that is just not acceptable." Prosecutor Adrian Darbishire QC said, "For the sake of £848 and a few days Mr Gutaj had changed the plan and refused the offer."

No risk assessment was carried out and no plan was put in place before the sofa was delivered on 21st November 2014. Worker Roman Szymajda said he was told "we would have to pull it up in to the property" and after the accident, he said "the company was too mean to spend money" on equipment to get items onto the balcony.

MLL  denies health and safety breaches and two counts of corporate manslaughter while  Mr Gutaj also denies breaching health and safety.

The trial at the Old Bailey heard the sofa was delivered at around 9.45am and the group of eight unsupervised workers decided to lift it onto the balcony using ropes, relying on the 130-year-old Victorian balustrade for safety.

Describing the accident, Mr Szymajda said, "We got the sofa almost to the level of the railings when I saw the railings just went.” His colleague, Mariusz Grzybowski said, "Everything was OK to start with, the guys were pulling the sofa up on the ropes and they almost had it, it was at the level of the barrier. There was a crack as the barrier gave way and broke... I then saw the guys falling down to the bottom. I believe the sofa fell first and the ropes then pulled them down."

A third man was saved when he was grabbed by one of his colleagues. Mr Procko and Mr Symanski were given first aid and the emergency services were called, but both had suffered catastrophic fatal injuries in the fall.

The trial continues.

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