Construction company pleads guilty to Safety Act charge in death of 19-year-old Australian

The family of an Australian teen who died on the job in Inuvik in 2016 says they are "shocked" his employer is pleading guilty to only one of nine charges it faced following his death.

Allen Services & Contracting pleads guilty to 1 of 9 charges filed after David Vinnicombe's death

Robbie and Jacqui Vinnicombe are the father and aunt of 19-year-old David, who was killed in a workplace accident last year in Inuvik. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

The family of an Australian teen who died on the job in Inuvik in 2016 says they are "shocked" his employer is pleading guilty to only one of nine charges the company faced following his death.

David Vinnicombe, 19, died while on a construction site at the Inuvik satellite station facility near the town in June 2016. At the time, Inuvik officials said a piece of heavy machinery rolled over, killing Vinnicombe, the only occupant.

Allen Services & Contracting Ltd. (Inuvik) pleaded guilty Monday to one of nine charges filed against the company and a supervisor under the Safety Act following that incident.

That charge was "failing to ensure that all workers are sufficiently and competently supervised." 

'It's not going to bring David back' 

"It doesn't matter if it's one charge or 100, it's not going to bring David back, it's never going to change," Jacqui Vinnicombe, David's aunt said in a phone interview with CBC News.

"From Australia we're very worried, wondering why and how this could be, why only one of the nine charges was heard in the court of law," she said. "This is a worker's life lost on a worksite, and government safety legislation, you can't get any more serious than that."   

A hand hold a framed photograph of a young boy with his dog.
19-year-old David came to Inuvik from Australia to go on the 'adventure of a lifetime,' his father Robbie said in April, when he was in Yellowknife for the territory's annual Day of Mourning. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

Jacqui Vinnicombe and David's dad, Robbie Vinnicombe, have been in the Northwest Territories twice this year — for the Day of Mourning for workers who died on the job and for a ceremony honouring David held in Inuvik in June.

During those visits, Jacqui Vinnicombe accused the territorial government and the WSCC of keeping the Vinnicombe family in the dark. Nothing has changed over the past year, she said.

"The level of detail we've been provided is the level of detail that's in CBC News," she said. "It's a non-transparent system, we're all hanging on the hook." 

The Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission filed the nine charges against Allen Services & Contracting Ltd. and supervisor Brian McCarthy in May 2017, nearly a year after Vinnicombe died.

Though the remaining charges have not been withdrawn yet, the prosecutor told the court the government will likely withdraw them once a conviction has been entered into the record.   

The case is now scheduled for a facts and sentencing hearing in Inuvik for Dec. 5.

Rob O'Neill, the lawyer representing Allen Services & Contracting, declined to comment on this story.