Company boss and mechanic found guilty of manslaughter in Bath tipper truck crash

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The boss of a haulage firm and his mechanic have been found guilty of manslaughter for a tipper truck crash in Bath that killed four people.

Haulage boss Matthew Gordon, director of firm Grittenham Haulage, and his mechanic Peter Wood, were found guilty at Bristol Crown Court.

The driver of the truck, Phillip Potter, was cleared of dangerous and careless driving.

Four people were killed when the 32 tonne tipper truck, which had faulty brakes, sped away out of control down a hill in February 2015.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency was a key partner during the investigation and provided expert mechanical and maintenance advice throughout the case.

They showed that the company had flouted regulations which are in place to ensure the safety of the public. Vehicles were signed off as being roadworthy, even though there were longstanding faults. The condition of the brakes on the lorry at the time of the crash was totally inadequate, with an overall efficiency of 28%.

Gordon was granted his first operator's licence in December 2013. Grittenham Haulage was supposed to have a transport manager, but did not do so in the months leading up to the fatal incident.

The most recent safety check on the vehicle by Wood was in January.

After the hearing senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Rich Ocone said: “Our investigation revealed a shocking picture of a company culture with complete disregard of safety and maintenance. This was a company with a very casual attitude towards safety.

“If there is a message which needs to come from this tragic incident, it is that company owners must adhere to a duty of care to the public. The public have an expectation to trust that businesses ensure that they are operating safely. Regular maintenance and servicing of all vehicles – but especially heavy goods vehicles is vital.

“Finally, I would like to thank the local community for all their support and the strength of character demonstrated since that terrible evening of 9 February 2015. Weston is a close-knit community, which rallied around to support those involved.

“I hope that the conviction of these men now allows all these people and the families who lost loved ones or relatives who were injured following this horrific incident in February of last year that today’s decision will help to provide some form of closure to a very difficult time in their lives."

DVSA Chief Executive, Gareth Llewellyn, said: “DVSA’s first priority is to protect everyone from unsafe drivers and vehicles.

“It’s the responsibility of drivers and operators to make sure that their vehicle is roadworthy at all times and anyone who fails to do so is putting themselves and other users at risk.

“Our thoughts are with the families of those affected by this totally avoidable incident.”

Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at RoSPA, said: “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.”

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  • R Flower - 27/01/2017 17:50

    If the photo is of a brake component on the accident lorry, you should clearly state this, and identify when it was taken and what the component is. I find it hard to believe that a vehicle with parts in this condition could have passed its MOT test.

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