A ROOFING boss has been jailed after his friend fell to his death while working.

Simon Bigg had not taken any safety steps at a job at 48 Boundary Road, Portslade.

His pal Mark Willis was working on the roof without scaffolding above an estate agents.

A jury found Bigg, now 58, guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence after a trial at Hove Crown Court.

Mr Willis was rushed to hospital with broken bones, yet he thought he was improving and looked forward to being discharged.

But sadly he died from brain injuries five days after the fall.

His son Robert Willis said: “This is the most horrendous thing I have ever had to endure.”

He said Bigg’s failure to accept responsibility for his negligence had caused his family even more heartbreak.

His Honour Judge Jeremy Gold QC said Bigg’s roofing operation was “clearly negligent” as there was no scaffolding or edging boards.

The judge jailed Bigg for four-and-a-half years for manslaughter.

The Argus: Simon Bigg was sentenced at Hove Crown Court for manslaughterSimon Bigg was sentenced at Hove Crown Court for manslaughter

Jacqueline Carey said the incident unfolded on November 28, 2018 where Bigg and Mr Willis were working on the job together.

Mr Willis, a former marine, was inexperienced and had only been working for his friend for three weeks,

Bigg decided that scaffolding and edging boards were not needed for the job.

But Mr Willis fell 18 feet from the roof of the second storey, suffering fatal injuries.

In a moving statement, Robert Willis said his father was “second to none”.

He said: “He was an incredibly likeable man with the ability to make people happy. He was a natural born leader and someone with whom you could enjoy great company.

“To me he was more than just a father, he was my mentor, a listening ear and my best friend.”

He said Mr Willis’s death had been a “horrendous” blow to everyone in his family and said at the outcome of the case he was “glad to see the end of this whole disastrous affair”.

But he also said it should have been obvious to Bigg that the site was not safe. Mr Willis’s own motto was that “if a job is worth doing, it is worth doing right”. He would not have hesitated to have made sure things were safe himself.

The Argus: Mark Willis died while working above a shop in Boundary Road, Portslade Mark Willis died while working above a shop in Boundary Road, Portslade

Thomas Nicholson-Pratt, defending, said Bigg has shown remorse over the loss of a friend, and said his decision not to take better safety steps was a “lapse in judgment”.

Judge Gold said he was satisfied greed and profit was not a factor in Bigg’s decision making, rather the error was in underestimating the risk of the work being done.

“While this was grossly negligent, I cannot be satisfied that this was for financial gain,” the judge said.

Bigg, formerly of Denton Island, Newhaven, is now behind bars.