Risk assessment, Breach of statutory duty
Court of Appeal (Criminal Division)
A fatal accident occurred in 1997 in the builders merchant yard
in Chichester, Sussex.
The accident occurred to a Mr. A Wilson who was employed by Hall & Co. Ltd as a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) driver and a yardman. He was at his place of work in aisle number one of the yard, when a lorry being driven by another HGV driver, which Wilson had been helping to load, reversed into the aisle and ran Wilson over. He sustained very serious injuries which proved fatal.
The company was committed to the Crown Court at Chichester for
sentence, and it was sentenced to pay a fine of £150,000. It was
also ordered to pay approximately £4,600 towards the
costs of the prosecution. The company pleaded guilty to the offence but sought leave to appeal against the level of fine imposed. This was a renewed application for leave to appeal against the amount of the fine, leave to appeal having been refused by the single judge.
Counsel for Hall & Co made four particular points;
1. The fact that Hall & Co had pleaded guilty.
2. Counsel said that the company had a generally good safety record.
3. He pointed out that following the accident the company made a full and prompt response, and in particular all its vehicles were fitted with appropriate alarm systems.
4. Lastly, he submitted that there was in this case an absence of any really serious aggravating features.
The court found that the combination of failures had resulted in an obvious risk of danger to employees; that risk included the risk of a fatal accident such as occurred here. The offence did call for the imposition of a severe penalty. The court considered that, in all the circumstances, the fine of £150,000, which was in fact imposed, was a proper one, and that the application by the company must therefore be refused.