A grieving mum has told a court that an "arrogant" Auckland business owner who shed "crocodile tears" has merely deepened the wounds of her son's death.
Jamey Lee Bowring, 24, was killed after the 100,000 litre fuel tank he was welding on at Salter's Cartage, a South Auckland waste removal company, exploded on September 15, 2015.
The enormous eruption sent Bowring and debris flying across the site for nearly 100m and also rocked buildings and shattered windows.
Today, submissions were heard for the sentencing of Ronald Thomas Salter and his company in the Manukau District Court before Judge Richard McIlraith.
The judge reserved his decision, but Bowring's tearful mum Sarah Ferguson remembered her son had a contagious sense of humour.
She did not accept Salter was remorseful and described him as displaying "arrogant behaviour" as he "portrayed himself as a victim".
After the accident, Salter established a scholarship to help train young welders.
However, Ferguson told the court there was no family consent to have the scholarship established in her son's name and said Salter was crying "crocodile tears".
"We will forever have an empty chair at the dinner table and an unopened present under the Christmas tree," she said.
Bowring's younger brother Sid Ferguson also said he was "haunted" by the state of his sibling's body after the accident.
"The hole Jamey has left in my life is only getting bigger," he said.
Judge McIlraith also addressed the family and said he had an obligation under the Sentencing Act to consider a sentence of home detention when a sentence of imprisonment of less than two years was appropriate.
"It is not a holiday in your house, it is a very serious punitive sentence," he explained.
WorkSafe NZ prosecutor Simon Mount QC said the Salter's Cartage site had "high hazards" and the ability to cause "catastrophic harm".
He told the court that following the police and WorkSafe investigation there was "widespread non-compliance" from the company regarding safety.
He said "hot work" at the site, such as welding or angle-grinding, should not have been conducted without a safety system in place.
Such a system should have included emptying the fuel tank, using a gas detector, and having an effective system to authorise hot work, he said.
"Contractors were not always required to obtain permits for doing such work," Mount added.
He argued that a fine of $400,000 was appropriate.
However, Mount did accept that there was no evidence to suggest that Salter was aware anyone was welding on the tanks on the day of the explosion, but submitted that should not be a mitigating factor.
Salter has previously told the Herald that he didn't know Bowring was on the site the day of the accident or why he was welding, but pleaded guilty to the charges laid by WorkSafe.
The court heard that tank 20, which Bowring was working on, had been labelled as a diesel tank, however, it was used instead for waste oil and held a combination of fuels and gas.
Bowring was on the site after offering to help his mother's partner, Trevor Ackers, carry out some maintenance work on the tanks.
He had taken a sick day from his usual job at GT Engineering.
Ackers' Huntly business RaceWorks, which was also charged after the accident, had been contracted to Salter's Cartage.
Salter has also questioned why Ackers has never been charged by WorkSafe.
"It's incredible that Trevor has never been charged with anything yet he instructed him to do the welding. But on my site, I'm responsible and there's no two ways about that, even though I did not know, they say I should have known. [But Jamey] never reported to the office," he previously told the Herald.
Today a statement from Salter was read to the court by his counsel Stephen Bonnar QC, after the director was seemingly overcome with emotion.
He told Bowring's family that he was "so sorry for the loss of your son" which occurred on his watch.
He said his company was very different from what it was two years ago and has made "major and systematic changes" and employed a health and safety manager to oversee the site.
Bonnar also said his client, like Bowring's family, had to live with the tragedy for the rest of his life.
"I'm not going to beat around the bush. On any assessment here, culpability here is high," he said.
Since the explosion Salter's Cartage has spent $1.5 million to repair the site and bring it up to a "very good standard" of safety compliance, Bonnar said.
He argued that his client and company should be fined $320,000.
The day after the explosion Auckland Council also released a statement that it had issued an abatement notice to Salter's Cartage a month prior.
"On 6 August 2015, Auckland Council staff visited Salter's Cartage for a routine compliance inspection and subsequently an abatement notice was issued for concerns with certain ducting and internal processes," the statement read.
Salter's Cartage was asked to provide an action plan to remedy issues by the end of September.
There were also more than 60 complaints before the explosion about gas and fume odour in the area, however, it is understood there is no evidence to suggest it was related to the explosion.