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September 8, 2009

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Haulage firm sentenced for health and safety breaches over road deaths

The Dorset haulage company and its senior managers who were cleared of manslaughter charges in relation to a road crash involving one of its drivers have been fined a total of more than £50,000 for health and safety breaches.

At Winchester Crown Court on 4 September, Blandford-based Translact was fined £10,000 for breaching section 2(1) of the HSWA 1974 and £30,000 for breaching section 3(1) in relation to the deaths of Neville and Cheryl De’Ath on 2 March 2007. The couple were hit by an articulated lorry owned by the firm while travelling on the A303 in Wiltshire. (Click here for our earlier report on the case.) The company pleaded guilty to both charges.

Company secretary Claire Ridout was fined a total of £800 for the same breaches. Ms Ridout also pleaded guilty, although the original indictment against her was amended to delete reference to “consent or connivance”, so that it was clear the charges were brought in relation to her neglect of duty.

Company director Robert Taylor was ordered to pay fines of £1500 and £5700, respectively, for the same breaches, while Christopher Taylor, a director of Translact’s parent company, Taymix Transport Ltd, received fines of £1500 and £3000 — again, for the same breaches, respectively.

Nicholas Read, Translact’s transport planner, was found not guilty of breaching section 7 of the HSWA.

The manslaughter case — against Translact, the Taylors, and Read — was dropped on 3 August owing to the impossibility of proving that fatigue as a result of working excessive hours caused driver Maciej Szcygiecki to plough into the De’Aths. Szcygiecki was jailed for four years for dangerous driving in 2007.

Translact has yet to appear before the traffic commissioner, who will decide whether or not it keeps its operating licence.

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