AN engineering firm has been fined half-a-million pounds following the death of an employee.

Judge Phillip Parry, sitting at Preston Crown Court, ordered Graham Engineering Ltd to pay a fine of £500,000 after Colin Willoughby, a long-standing member of their staff, died while at work.

Bosses have until August 31 to ensure the fine is paid in full and must also pay a further £145,000 for the cost of bringing the case to court.

The Health and Safety Executive launched an investigation in March of 2018 after Mr Willoughby tragically died while working at the company’s Nelson base.

Graham Engineering Ltd, based in Edward Street, is a precision manufacturer of steel components which was founded in 1970 and now employs more than 180 people.

At the time it was reported how police, firefighters and paramedics were all called when Mr Willoughby became trapped under a piece of machinery. Despite all their best efforts, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

In a statement release at the time, Colin’s wife Jayne said: “Colin was a strong Goliath yet a gentle giant.”

She went on to say that his death had come as a massive shock to everyone, who were all devastated by his death.

At the time the company also paid tribute to Mr Willoughby, who was a long-standing member of their workforce.

A spokesperson said at the time: “We can confirm that a member of our staff was fatally injured in the workplace on Monday.

“We are deeply saddened by this event. He was a very popular and long-serving member of our staff and he will be greatly missed by all of his work colleagues. 

“We will continue to work closely with the Health and Safety Executive, and provide every assistance to the police and other various authorities into the cause of the incident. 

“Our thoughts and condolences are with his family and friends at this very difficult time.”

A former colleague of Mr Willoughby said: “He was always busy and always had a smile on his face.

“He was a good listener and consequently you could always have a good debate with him. We’d always end up laughing.

“I’ll always remember Colin. He was just one of those rare people you don’t often meet.”

Three ambulances, a rapid response unit and a senior clinician attended the scene, along with fire and rescue services and the police.

Graham Engineering were contacted for a comment following the court case, which took place on Tuesday, April 26.