Worker cleared of three GBH charges after man suffers 'life-changing' injuries on Scarborough building site

A man has been cleared of allegations that he deliberately caused serious injury to a fellow workman on a Scarborough building site after an accident involving a digger.

Tuesday, 25th May 2021, 10:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 25th May 2021, 10:02 am

Duncan Corbett 32, was operating an excavator when the Takeuchi machine’s bucket arm struck construction worker Ian Mitton on the leg, causing horrific, “life-changing” injuries including a broken thigh bone, a jury at Doncaster Crown Court heard.

Mr Corbett was also accused of trying to seriously injure Mr Mitton’s workmate Christopher Lee by swinging the bucket arm towards him “at head height”.

He was also cleared of this allegation.

Doncaster Crown Court.

Mr Mitton - whom the prosecution said had been trapped between the teeth of the bucket and the excavator blade - was airlifted to James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough after suffering a compound fracture to his thig bone, severed nerves and tendons and heavy blood loss.

He had to undergo five operations and had metal plates inserted in his leg, as well as “numerous” skin grafts.

Doctors said he was unlikely to recover without complications, although the prognosis was still uncertain, said prosecutor Michael Cahill.

Mr Mitton’s mobility had been seriously affected following the incident on the then-undeveloped Linden Homes estate near Beacon Road, Seamer.

His friend Mr Lee wasn’t injured in the accident, which occurred just before 9am on November 30, 2019.

Police were called to the site and arrested Mr Corbett, who denied the allegations and insisted he had not realised that Mr Mitton was there and that it was an accident.

He also denied the allegation that he had swung the digger towards Mr Lee.

Mr Corbett, of Punton Walk, Snaith, East Yorks, was ultimately charged with causing grievous bodily harm with intent and an alternative count of inflicting grievous bodily harm.

He was also charged with attempting to cause grievous bodily harm to Mr Lee.

Mr Corbett denied the allegations and on Monday, a week into the trial, Recorder Anthony Hawks directed the jury to find the defendant not guilty of all three charges.

During the trial, Mr Mitton, 36, hobbled into the witness box on crutches and told how he and Mr Lee had asked Mr Corbett to move a pile of gravel or roadstones next to where he was working so they could get past in their work vans.

According to Mr Mitton, who had been working as a sub-contractor, he was met with a “shrug of the shoulders” by Mr Corbett who allegedly “threw his arms up in frustration at the wish for them to pass”.

Mr Corbett “just carried on with his work” and the gravel wasn’t moved, at which point Mr Mitton walked over to the excavator to ask him again to move the stones.

It was alleged that as Mr Mitton turned to walk away, the digger’s bucket arm was swung towards him in a “scooping motion”, trapping him between the bucket and the digger.

The judge and jury found there was no deliberate aiming of the bucket arm towards either of the men who had made the allegations.

Mr Mitton managed to get one leg out, but the bucket was “pressing against my (right leg) for three-to-four seconds”.

He “screamed out” when he saw the extent of his leg injury as Mr Corbett allegedly “just walked past me when I was on the floor”.

Mr Cahill said the excavator arm was moved away from Mr Mitton after it struck him and the machine came to a stop.

Other workers called an ambulance and tended to Mr Mitton by tying a belt around his leg to stem the bleeding.

Defence barrister Sam Faulks said there was no dispute that Mr Corbett had been operating the digger at the time of the accident, nor that Mr Mitton’s injuries were caused by the excavator bucket, but that there was no intent on his client’s part to harm the workman.

The jury acquitted Mr Corbett of all charges.