Fleet News

Boss fined after corporate manslaughter conviction

A cleaning company boss has been fined £183,000 after an employee was killed while working on machinery in the company’s depot.

Worker Malcolm Hinton was crushed to death after a raised hopper used for collecting dirt fell on him, reports the Reading Post.

Mervyn Owens, director of Mobile Sweepers (Reading), was fined and banned from being a company director after admitting health and safety offences.

It was the sixth conviction under corporate manslaughter legislation.

Winchester Crown Court heard how Hinton was attempting to repair a road-sweeping truck on March 6, 2012.

The 56-year-old, who had no training in mechanics, inadvertently cut through a hydraulic hose which caused the back of the truck to fall on him.

He suffered massive head and chest injuries and died almost instantly.

The court heard there had been no prop in place to keep the hopper from falling and the sweepers were not maintained.

Repairs were found to be inadequate and staff insufficiently trained.

Owens, of Gordon Place, West Reading, had admitted failing to discharge a health and safety duty and the company admitted corporate manslaughter at a previous hearing.

He was fined £183,000 and the company was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £4,000 costs. He was also ordered to pay the fine within 12 months, or face a three-year jail sentence.

The judge suggested if Mobile Sweepers had been a larger company the fine would have been closer to £1 million.

Owens was also disqualified from being a company director for five years after the judge heard he had started an almost identical company after Mobile Sweepers (Reading) ceased trading on the day of the accident.

In addition, Mobile Sweepers was subject to a publicity order, meaning that notices worded by the judge detailing the case would be placed in various local newspapers.

Detective Sergeant Glyn White said: “This conviction should send out a message to all small limited companies with a hands-on senior management structure, that they are vulnerable to prosecution if their health and safety systems are inadequate or not enforced.”

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