People could have died or been seriously hurt after Virgin Media workmen left manhole covers open in a Richmond road last year.

Richmond Council successfully prosecuted the telecommunications giant in court this week, with Virgin Media handed a £14,300 fine as a result.

The case, heard at Lavender Hill Magistrates’ Court, came after contractors left manhole covers uncovered in Petersham Road on June 18, last year.

The contractors failed to build safety barriers around the manhole covers or put up any signs giving drivers warning of the danger.

The workers were laying communication lines and the court heard the lives of council workers, who had to halt their work, and motorists, who had to weave around the holes, was put at serious risk.

Virgin Media’s contractors returned to the site the next day to try to carry out the work unlawfully without a permit when they were caught again making the same dangerous mistakes.

Council cabinet member for highways Councillor Chris Harrison said: “I hope this prosecution sends a clear message to companies that carry out work in our roads across Richmond.

“The council will not hesitate to take legal action against anyone who poses a risk to our residents and motorists.”

Virgin Media was brought before court on Tuesday, February 4, and pleaded guilty to 15 street work offences.

It was fined for each count, totalling £14,300, which must be paid within two weeks, as well as costs to the council.

The court considered the offences were aggravated by repeated service of fixed penalty notices, written warnings, a meeting with the company and onsite warnings to workers with Virgin Media managers present.

A Virgin Media spokesman said: “Our contractors did not comply with the high standards we set for everyone who works on behalf of Virgin Media and we regret, and apologise for, the concern caused to local residents.”