Garage boss fined £2,000 over customer’s death in ‘accident waiting to happen’

Garage boss fined £2,000 over customer’s death in ‘accident waiting to happen’

THE boss of a South Wales garage where a customer died after being hit by a reversing car has been fined £2,000 and told to pay more than £15,500 in costs.

Alistair Reeves admitted breaching health and safety regulations at Tredegar Tyre and Exhaust Centre, where John Roach, 76, was hit from behind by the vehicle, reported the South Wales Argus.

The pensioner hit his head on the ground as he fell, suffering a fractured skull and brain haemorrhage, and died soon after. The accident happened in April 2015 and Reeves subsequently admitted a charge under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, with sentencing taking place at Newport Crown Court this week. As well as the fine, he was ordered to pay costs of £15,552.59 plus a £200 victim surcharge.

The court, pictured, was told the garage was ‘busy and congested’ when Mr Roach was there. He had parked near work bays. Both he and Reeves had been talking and moved out of the way of a people carrier. Reeves subsequently went off, and prosecutor Lee Reynolds said the pensioner then seemed ‘to have prevented another incident between vehicles reversing out of adjacent bays’.

He added that Mr Roach was facing in the opposite direction as one of the vehicles – a Mazda – carried on reversing, hitting him at low speed. Reynolds said that when environmental health and police officers went there they found ‘an extremely chaotic scene’. He added: ‘To some extent it was an accident waiting to happen.’

Reeves had enforcement notices served on him, demanding measures including a risk assessment, hatched zones to stop customers parking in some areas, and parking areas for customers.

In mitigation, Nicholas Gareth Jones said the incident left Reeves, of Park Road, Ebbw Vale, ‘clearly shocked’.

Sentencing Reeves, Judge Stephen Hopkins labelled it a ‘somewhat chaotic’ scene that had ‘led to the tragic and unnecessary death’, reported the Argus. He said Mr Roach ‘had little option but to leave his vehicle where he did, given the congestion’, adding: ‘It was a busy and congested site with little or no sign of traffic management. I would have thought that was essential.’

The driver of the Mazda, Jeffrey Watkins, of Gainsborough Road, Tredegar, admitted causing death by careless driving, reported the Argus in August 2015. Newport magistrates gave the 54-year-old MOT inspector a one-year driving ban plus a 28-day curfew and told him to pay a court charge of £180 plus £85 prosecution costs as well as a £60 surcharge.

The court was told he had had a lapse of concentration and failed to check his rear-view mirror. His defence barrister, James Bromige, said Watkins suffered ‘significant emotional trauma’ and there was no animosity between his family and that of Mr Roach.

Picture: Ben Birchall/PA Archive/PA Images

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