Wolverhampton truck firm's fine over horror death is halved on appeal
A Wolverhampton truck sales company originally fined £450,000 after a scrap dealer died in an horrific accident has seen its penalty more than halved on appeal.
William Price, 63, had dealt as a contractor with ATE Truck & Trailer Sales Ltd, for many years before his death in February 2013.
He was working in part of the yard set aside for him when the roof of a curtain-sided trailer he was dismantling fell on top of him.
Mr Price was crushed between the roof and the side of the trailer and died from catastrophic head injuries, London’s Appeal Court heard.
A Health and Safety Executive inspector later concluded that Mr Price’s ‘method of work was unsafe’.
ATE pointed out Mr Price was a private contractor and it believed it had no responsibility for his activities.
He had carried out truck dismantling jobs for ATE for decades and the company had no expertise in what he did, the firm claimed. ATE also stated that had a formal risk assessment been in place, Mr Price would have been ‘extremely unlikely' to pay any attention to it.
The company pleaded guilty to failing to provide a suitable and sufficient risk assessment at Wolverhampton Crown Court in April last year.
It was fined £450,000 by the judge, who ruled the danger to Mr Price was ‘obvious’ and it was a case of ‘high culpability’.
But three Appeal Court judges said the decision was wrong and found ATE’s culpability for Mr Price’s death was ‘low’. The company, which had over 8,000 vehicles in stock and exported globally, had a ‘good safety record’, said Lord Justice Gross.
It had spent more than £100,000 on health and safety since 2012 and had co-operated fully with the investigation.
The judge said: “We express our sympathy for the family of the deceased – the family’s sense of devastation and loss is well understood.”
But he added: “That sympathy cannot determine the outcome of the appeal and no fine, of whatever amount, can bring back Mr Price.”
Allowing ATE’s appeal, Lord Justice Gross, sitting with Mrs Justice Laing and Mr Justice Phillips, said: “We conclude that the appropriate fine is £200,000.”
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