A DONCASTER miner was crushed to death under 100 tonnes of coal and stone in an horrific mining accident which followed breaches of safety rules.
Anthony Garrigan, from Thorne, died when the material fell onto him as he worked underground at Daw Mill Colliery, near Coventry, a court heard.
But the Doncaster based mining company, which has admitted breaches of health and safety rules, is now pleading poverty and urging a judge not to fine it too heavily.
Mr Justice MacDuff heard Mr Garrigan, a 42-year-old dad, had been helping install bolts into the wall of a tunnel which had a history of collapses when he was killed on January 17, 2007.
He was one of four miners who died following safety breaches by UK Coal.
Trevor Steeples, 46, from Nottingham, and Paul Hunt, 45, from Swadlincote, Derbyshire, also died in accidents at Daw Mill.
Another miner Paul Milner, aged 44, of Church Warsop, near Mansfield, died at Welbeck Colliery.
Mark Turner QC, for the firm, offered “unqualified apologies” on behalf of UK Coal to the families of the four men.
The judge told Sheffield Crown Court he had a very difficult exercise to perform, to provide justice for the men’s families yet not threaten a company which provided energy to the nation, employment within the nation, and a valuable service all round.
He said he had read moving tributes from the men’s families and praised them for their measured comments without “railing or complaining.”
And he added that it would be in nobody’s interest to impose devastating financial penalties on the firm.
Mr Turner had told him UK Coal was in a “very poor way financially” and was implementing a survival plan but was continuing to increase its investment in health and safety.
UK Coal admitted seven breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act at an earlier hearing. The judge adjourned the case to a date to be fixed.