A property developer has been ordered to pay £92,129 after staff, contractors and the public were potentially exposed to asbestos when a hotel was knocked down in Newquay.

Paul Stephens, the director of Stephens + Stephens, was sentenced at Truro Crown Court on Wednesday, April 24, under the Health and Safety at Work Act following the demolition of the 55 bedroomed Cliffdene Hotel at Narrowcliff in 2020.

Recorder John Trevaskis stated a number of people were exposed to the risk of asbestos including passers-by.

He said the offence was partly driven by the cutting of corners and created a significant risk of serious harm to people.

Stephens was fined £37,234 and was also ordered by the court to pay prosecution and remedial costs, as well as a victim surcharge.

A spokesperson for Stephens + Stephens said: “Mr Stephens accepted that, in the demolition works at the Cliffdene Hotel site in Newquay in 2020, one of the surveys that he relied upon, proved to be out-of-date.  

“Although appropriately licenced professional contractors were engaged and paid for the removal of contaminated material at the project, it emerged that during the tender process there were some misunderstandings as to what had to be removed, and by whom.  

“Within his plea, Paul Stephens therefore admitted that, on reflection, some materials would have been better removed by licenced contractors.  

“Whilst company employees had the required training and equipment for safe working practices in and around contaminated materials, it was acknowledged that employees may not have kept to the guidance at all times. 

“The court also appreciated that the company was entitled to use its own employees to remove some classes of contaminated materials, and indeed did so. 

“The sentence imposed reflected Paul Stephens’ willingness to accept responsibility for the limited admissions made and reflected a misapprehension as to the provisions made for the removal of other materials.  

“In imposing a fine of £37,234 plus costs, the court noted not just that this matter was out-of-character for Mr Stephens professionally, but also that it stood in very great contrast to his ‘positive good character’ as a member of his local community.  

“Numerous references and letters of support were submitted, setting out Mr Stephen’s commitment not only to his employees and suppliers, but also to neighbours and friends.  

“It was also set out for the court that during the most challenging financial circumstances, Mr Stephens had drawn upon all of his personal resources to support the vital finance required on a number of developments.  

“As a direct result, Mr Stephens personally insured that work continued, and an extensive number of employees remained in employment across the county.

“The judge accepted that the culpability attached to Mr Stephens’ admissions was lesser than that originally suggested by the prosecution.  

“Paul Stephens wishes to express his gratitude to the judge and the court for their time and attention to the case.”