Editor, SHP

June 29, 2015

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Supermarket convicted after woman loses leg

A supermarket has been convicted of breaching health and safety law after an incident in January 2013 in which a woman had to have her leg amputated after she was hit by a lorry in the store’s delivery yard.

Patricia Cox, 62, was walking across the car park by the main entrance to Jempson’s store in Main Street, Peasmarsh, near Rye, when she was struck by an 18-tonne delivery lorry.

The vehicle was in the process of trying to reverse into the store’s delivery yard, executing a manoeuvre which was allowed to occur regularly in front of the store entrance.

Mrs Cox was airlifted to hospital, but lost her left leg and suffered severe and permanent damage to her other leg and arm after being dragged under the front right wheel of the lorry.

Jempson’s Ltd denied breaching section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act, but was convicted by a jury following a prosecution by Rother District Council and a two-week trial at Lewes Crown Court.

Jurors heard evidence from logistics firms who said the supermarket’s delivery yard was cluttered and the access road to it narrowed by cars parked on double yellow lines, meaning lorries had to reverse into the yard.

The court heard that Jempson’s, part of a group of companies which owns eight shops and cafes across the Rother area, knew about the risk posed by lorries reversing in the busy pedestrian area by the entrance to the Peasmarsh store, but failed to implement reasonably practicable measures to reduce the risk of an accident.

Cllr Ian Hollidge, Rother District Council cabinet member for environment, transport and public realm, said:

“This was a truly horrific accident which has had life-changing implications for Mrs Cox.

“It’s the clear responsibility of companies and organisations which deal with the public to do everything they reasonably can to minimise risks to their customers.

“The jury found that this company did not do that and agreed with our view that this was a case where more could and should have been done to reduce the risk of an accident like this occurring.

“This conviction should send out a clear message of the importance of taking prompt and effective action when a risk to health and safety is identified.”

Sentencing will take place next month.

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