LUXURY boatbuilder Sunseeker has been fined after an employee suffered serious head injuries as he worked on a multimillion pound yacht.

The Poole-based company will pay £167,000 following a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecution, brought in the wake of the accident on January 28 2016.

Jack Abraham was working beneath the 86-foot vessel when a 23-stone hull bracket swung loose and struck him on the head. Mr Abraham said he was knocked unconscious as a result of the impact, although this was disputed by counsel for Sunseeker.

Jim Meyer, prosecuting, said the casualty sustained a laceration to his head and a torn muscle in his neck. He suffered concussion for a week, was signed off work for almost six weeks and required physiotherapy for 15 months.

A district judge sitting at Poole Magistrates' Court heard the yacht had been sold, subject to finance, but its captain noticed a fault while sailing it.

The vessel was brought back to Sunseeker for work to a misaligned rotor propeller shaft. The company's one suitable jig was in use, and managers decided to use an acrow prop to hoist the bracket aloft.

However, as Mr Abraham and a colleague crouched beneath the yacht, the solid bronze bracket swung laterally.

The court heard the bracket, a "dead weight", was "wholly unsuited to its intended use".

Mr Meyer said Mr Abraham was "lucky".

"It could have been much worse," he said.

"He could have died easily."

The prosecutor argued Sunseeker should face a fine of between £300,000 and £1.5m. The company's annual turnover in 2016 was £245m.

In mitigation, it was heard Sunseeker puts health and safety "at the forefront", spending £70,000 each year on safety glasses alone.

The company admitted being an employer and failing to discharge a general health safety and welfare duty to an employee.

As well as the fine, District Judge Stephen Nicholls ordered Sunseeker to pay £7,000 costs and a £120 victim surcharge.

CEO Phil Popham attended the hearing on Thursday.

After the hearing, Mr Popham released a statement which reads: "The incident happened more than two years ago and Sunseeker International has co-operated fully with the HSE ever since, accepting that there were shortcomings by the company and pleading guilty to the charge at the first opportunity.

"The incident occurred during a non-routine ‘one-off’ procedure. Despite this, Sunseeker immediately put into place several steps to significantly reduce the risk of this occurring again.

"Working within a heavy engineering environment and operating an average of more than three million man-hours a year, Sunseeker takes the health and safety of its employees very seriously and continually reviews and updates procedures to improve safety for its staff.

"Until this incident, Sunseeker has had no prior prosecutions in more than fifty years of manufacturing and as the district judge expressly acknowledged yesterday, 'Sunseeker puts health and safety at the forefront of all that it does'.

"To reflect this, the company employs a dedicated team of six advisers supported by 15 dedicated health and safety representatives and a further 23 safety champions who combine health and safety duties within their everyday roles in the business.

"In the past four years the company has invested almost £4.5m in health and safety with a further £1.3m budgeted for 2018."

HSE inspector Victoria Bailey said: “Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to inform, instruct and train their workers in the safe system of working.

“If a suitable, safe system of work had been implemented prior to the incident, the serious injuries sustained by the employee could have been prevented.”