Fleet News

Corporate manslaughter must pay £385,000 fine

The first company convicted for corporate manslaughter will have to pay a £385,000 fine after it lost its appeal.

Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings became the first firm convicted under new corporate manslaughter legislation at Winchester Crown Court in February, following the death of employee Alexander Wright in September 2008.

The Lord Chief Justice said it was "unavoidable and inevitable" that the company would probably have to go into liquidation to pay the fine.

Members of the prosecution team Mark Ellison QC and Adrian Darbishire said in a statement: “As far as sentence was concerned, the fine imposed was appropriate. To limit a fine to the level which this company was capable of paying would have resulted in a ludicrous penalty.

“The trial judge correctly applied the Sentencing Guidelines, had regard to the need to consider the means of the company, but also had regard to the recognition in the guidelines that, in some cases, putting the company out of business may be inevitable, as it was in this case.”

Peter Eaton, the company's managing director, had also been charged with manslaughter by gross negligence and a health and safety offence. However, these personal charges were dropped because of his poor health.

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  • Dave Holladay - 31/03/2014 01:18

    Checking on this old story, largely because of the major anomaly we have with road traffic law and the associated culture of road use. I was digging out old papers, and found that it is almost 15 years since HSE began tacking the one area of workplace safety where the massive reduction in deaths and serious injuries that comes when employers and employees embrace their responsibility to deliver a duty of care in their everyday activities on site. I refer to the road when it is 'the workplace'. Back in 2001 the report of the HSE/DfT Group noted that 10% of 'workplace' deaths fell in to this category, and a third of road KSI involved drivers 'at work'. Drive over 25,000 miles/year and the odds on being involved in a fatal crash rise dramatically. A clear reason for the employer not to schedule calls and work which deliver fatigue and other pressures which will adversely affect the driver's performance. But there is another anomaly which can see the CPS and Police delaying a case coming to trial as they waver over the choice of charges of causing death by careless of dangerous driving. This can cause both distress to the driver and the victim's family and a great deal of effort in making that choice. I can see a way to make things much simpler, by treating the effect of causing a death by using a dangerous piece of equipment, when it happens to be a motor vehicle on a public road, in exactly the same way as it would be if that fatal crash happened on a construction site, or involved any other equipment than can cause harm if dangerously or carelessly used. Let's align the law on cases where deaths arise from using motor vehicles with all other fatal incidents. Just one charge - manslaughter (or in the rare cases where intent or clearly deliberate action has caused the death - murder), it could also excise the euphemism of 'road rage' for what would, with the use of any other 'weapon' be drawn from the range of assault, breach of the peace etc. Somehow doing this with a car, truck or bus makes it different?

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