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Haulage boss and mechanic convicted in Bath tipper truck crash

Bristol Crown Court has found the boss and mechanic at a haulage firm guilty of manslaughter after four people were killed in a tipper truck crash in Bath.

Mitzi Steady, four, Robert Parker, 59, Philip Allen, 52, and Stephen Vaughan, 34, died in the crash last February after the lorry, which had faulty brakes, ran out of control.

Haulage boss Matthew Gordon, 30, and mechanic Peter Wood, 55, were found guilty of four counts of manslaughter. Phillip Potter, 20, the driver of the truck, was cleared of dangerous and careless driving.

Bristol Crown Court were told that the truck had allegedly been inspected three weeks before the incident by Wood.

Prosecutor Adam Vaitilingam QC said: “If Mr Wood did carry out a safety inspection that day it was wholly inadequate.

“On the date of the crash the lorry had serious and long standing defects with its braking system, meaning that it was and had been for some time in a dangerous condition,” said Mr Vaitilingam.

“This sort of catastrophic brake failure doesn’t just happen through bad luck.”

Alyson Harris, senior crown prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service South West said: “This terrible tragedy could have been avoided had the defendants performed their jobs competently. The company did not comply with the Traffic Commissioner’s conditions; the vehicle was not properly maintained; and it was driven on a road it should not have been on and at a time when it was not roadworthy.”

She added: “We hope that these verdicts bring some sense of justice to the victims’ families and that all road users take note of the importance of safety and of complying with the rules of the road and of the terrible results that can follow if that is not done.”

Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at RoSPA, also commented: “This case shows the devastating human cost of organisations not meeting their duty of care, with four lives lost and many more irrevocably changed.

“We welcome the guilty verdicts as it demonstrates that the courts will not take such failures lightly, and we hope that it will prompt other organisations to review their own systems.”

Gordon and Wood were remanded in custody with trial judge Mr Justice Langstaff saying he would pass sentence on 27 January.

Written by Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.

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