The father of a teenager killed on the last day of his summer job last night branded a man accused of killing him a “liar” as he was cleared of the crime.
Dean Reynolds was acquitted of the culpable homicide of 17-year-old Michael McLean after an eight day trial at the High Court in Aberdeen.
He was accused of starting up an industrial spooler machine while the schoolboy was inside it’s drum – causing him to fall and suffer a broken neck and torn spinal cord.
But a jury took one-and-a-half hours to find the case against him not proven by majority.
Following the conclusion of the case, it can now be revealed that Denholm MacNamee were fined £120,000 in December after admitting breaches of the Health and Safety At Work Act relating to Michael’s death.
Yesterday Reynolds declined to comment on the case outside court.
But Michael’s father Mark McLean, who the trial heard rushed to his son’s side to administer CPR as he lay fatally wounded, said he was “angry” at the outcome.
Speaking outside court he said: “It was not the result I was expecting with the evidence against him.
“I can’t believe the jury was caught out when they looked at the evidence.
“Was Michael’s life so insignificant?
“What happened if he didn’t do it?
The eighth and final day of the trial at the High Court saw jurors hear closing speeches from the Crown and defence.
Advocate depute Richard Goddard, prosecuting, said a series of pieces of circumstantial evidence heard over the course of the trial pointed to Reynolds’ guilt and he urged the jury to convict him of the killing charge.
But Iain Duguid QC, defending, said there had been no evidence of a prank on the last day of summer job and no evidence of any motive for Reynolds to injure him.
He said: “Not a single person heard the machine being operated.”
The trial earlier heard how Michael McLean was found unconscious and bleeding from the ears in an industrial spooling machine used to raise and lower subsea cables from oil platforms and boats.
He was pulled out of the drum before his father – who also worked at the firm – frantically tried to give him CPR.
Mr McLean was rushed to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary where he died six days later.
The court was told a post-mortem examination found that Michael had suffered a broken vertebrae in his neck, which caused a tear in his spinal cord leading to cardiac arrest which starved his brain of oxygen.
Prosecutors argued that Reynolds had started up the machine while Michael was inside, causing the fatal injuries.
Giving evidence in his own defence Reynolds said he had found Michael lying unconscious in the drum and “thought he was taking a breather” and that the teenager wasn’t badly hurt.
The court heard Reynolds told police he didn’t think Michael – who was helping him prepare the cable spooling machine for painting – would have been able to reach the starting handle for the machine from inside the drum where he was found.
And he denied ever starting up the machine while Michael was inside it on August 14 2015, the last day of the teenager’s summer job at the firm before he was due to resume school.
A health and safety expert told the trial it would have been possible for Michael to start the machine up if he was inside the drum – but would not have been able to stop it once it started rotating.
Reynolds, 23, of Regent Street, Keith, Aberdeenshire, denied a charge of culpable homicide.
An alternative charge under the Health and Safety at Work Act and a second charge of attempting to pervert the course were dropped at the end of the Crown case.
A jury of six men and nine women took one-and-a-half hours to find the charge not proven by a majority verdict.
Reynolds started straight ahead and showed no emotion as the verdict was read.
Judge Lord Beckett told Reynolds: “You have been acquitted by the jury’s not proven verdict. You are discharged and free to go.”