Inspector saw no issue at Vic site

A Victorian WorkCover inspector saw nothing inappropriate when advertising hoarding was erected on a wall that later collapsed and killed three people, a court has heard.


The hoarding, which was installed by Aussie Signs Pty Ltd at the request of a Grocon entity, is said by prosecutors to have increased the risk the wall would collapse.

Grocon Victoria Street Pty Ltd pleaded guilty on Thursday to one charge of failing to ensure a safe workplace at the Swanston Street site where the wall fell down in March 2013.

Aussie Signs is yet to enter a plea to two charges brought by WorkCover over the collapse.

Its committal hearing was told WorkCover occupational inspector Barry Dunn visited the site in October 2011 when the hoarding was being erected but saw nothing wrong.

Mr Dunn was responding to a complaint about workers behaving in an unsafe manner but he told the Melbourne Magistrates Court he could see nothing inappropriate about the work at the site.

Defence barrister Nick Pappas, for Aussie Signs, said Mr Dunn would have “racked his brain” since the fatal accident, trying to figure out if there was anything he could have done.

“As far as you could see there was nothing that could have been done to stop it,” Mr Pappas asked Mr Dunn.

Mr Dunn said this was correct.

Teenage siblings Alexander and Bridget Jones, of Melbourne, and Dr Marie-Faith Fiawoo, 33, of France, were killed when a 15-metre-long section of the brick wall fell onto Swanston Street.

Prosecutor Greg Lyon, for WorkCover, has told the court Grocon Victoria Street did not ensure Aussie Signs made safety checks nor required it to.

Two witnesses told the hearing they looked at the wall after it collapsed and saw that C-shaped wire ties that formed part of the structure were rusted.

However, it would not have been possible to tell the wire ties were rusted while the wall was intact, the court heard.

Grocon Victoria Street faces a maximum penalty of $305,000, instead of the $1.1 million three Grocon entities could have faced for each charge in the Victorian County Court.

Two charges each against the two other Grocon entities have been withdrawn.