A MECHANIC at a haulage company and the company’s owner have been sent to jail for their role in a deadly tipper truck crash in Bath nearly two years ago.
As reported by Workshop Magazine, 30-year old Matthew Gordon, the owner of Grittenham Haulage, and the company’s 55-year old mechanic, Peter Wood, were found guilty of four counts of gross negligence manslaughter in December, following the tragic accident in February 2015, pictured above.
Gordon, of Dauntsey, Wiltshire, was sentenced to seven and a half years, while Wood, of Brinkworth, Wiltshire, was handed five years three months in prison. Gordon was also banned from being a company director for 12 years.
Four-year-old Mitzi Steady, who was crossing Lansdown Lane with her grandmother, and Robert Parker, 59, Philip Allen, 52, and Stephen Vaughan, 34, who were in a Volvo, died in the crash when the Scania truck’s brakes failed and it ploughed into pedestrians and the car. The grandmother – Margaret Rogers – needed both legs amputating and spent three months in hospital.
Mr Justice Langstaff said Gordon and Wood had a ‘cavalier’ attitude to maintaining vehicles owned by the firm. Sentencing the duo, he said: ‘I accept that neither of you intended death or injury or even brake failure. You did not wish it.
‘But the fact is that a lorry as heavy as this is likely to cause serious injury and death to members of the public unless properly maintained.
‘You knew that being casual about the safety risked the lives of others. Your failures are inexplicable.
‘If they were one-off failures that would be bad enough, but they are not. They were part and parcel of the way you approached your responsibilities.’
The trial had heard that after the accident, Gordon told Potter, of Dauntsey, Wiltshire, not to mention that an ABS warning light had been on. The judge told Gordon: ‘You exposed Mr Potter, a young driver, to the horror of unavoidably killing a young child. You showed no immediate remorse for what happened.’
After the sentencing at Bristol Crown Court, Detective Chief Inspector Richard Ocone of Avon and Somerset Constabulary, said: ‘As a company owner, Matthew Gordon had no transport manager and effectively flouted every regulation, which had been put in place to ensure safety
‘His mechanic, Peter Wood, signed off vehicles as safe when they clearly were not.
‘Detailed and complex investigations showed many of the faults on the vehicle were longstanding – highlighted by the fact that the brakes on the lorry at the time of the crash were totally inadequate, having an overall efficiency of just 28 per cent.’
Responding to the sentences, RoSPA head of road safety Kevin Clinton said: ‘This awful case shows the devastation that can occur when organisations do not meet their duty of care. Four lives were cut short, and many more have been changed forever.
‘The court, in delivering guilty verdicts and subsequent jail sentences, has recognised this fact, and we hope this will prompt other organisations to now review their own systems.’
Pictures: Ben Birchall PA Wire/PA Images
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