Transport company closed down after doctor killed in collision
A West Midlands transport company which pleaded guilty to serious health and safety breaches after one of its drivers killed a cyclist in a collision has been closed down – after it was revealed the firm misled an inquiry into the accident.
In October 2017, cyclist Dr Suzanna 'Suzie' Bull, 32, was killed when she was struck by a lorry on Pershore Road, at the junction with Priory Road, in Birmingham.
Robert Bradbury, 51, formerly of Cambridge Way, Acocks Green, was found guilty of causing death by careless driving by a jury in October last year, and in December, was sentenced to 21 months in prison. He was also handed a two-year and 10 month driving ban.
As a result of the sentencing, a public inquiry was opened by the Traffic Commissioner. This was despite S & J Transport, the company Bradbury worked for, pleading guilty to the offence of failing to discharge its duty contrary to the Health and Safety at Work Act – and being fined £112,500 and ordered to pay £3,000 in court costs.
On September 2, the company was officially closed down – and its company directors and transport manager have been disqualified for five years after it was found they deliberately misled the Traffic Commissioner at the hearing.
Pc Mark Crozier, from West Midlands Police's Serious Collision Investigation Unit, listened to representations from the company at the hearing that contradicted what was heard at the crown court trial. Pc Crozier had investigated the whole case and was aware of the intricate details around the aggravating factor of a table on the vehicle dashboard – which was found to have severely obscured the driver’s view. He raised his concerns and the inquiry was adjourned to a later date, while he submitted evidence from the trial.
In July, the hearing was resumed and the company's barrister admitted that his clients had lied about their involvement in allowing tables and other items on the dashboard – such as a fan and toys. The dashboard tables used by Bradbury, and a number of other drivers across the UK, are designed only to be used when the vehicle is stationary.
After a ruling by the Traffic Commissioner, S & J Transport, based in Coleshill, will now be permanently closed down from October 1, and its directors have been disqualified from this type of work for five years.
Pc Crozier said: "Truthfully, I am pleased with the outcome following this public inquiry as it further holds the company to account for the tragic loss of an innocent life.
“Suzie Bull was a doctor at the city’s hospital and her family were very vocal about the need for all those involved to take responsibility for their actions that resulted in the 32-year-old being killed.
“The doctor was wearing bright pink high-visibility clothing in a dedicated cycle lane and should have been in full view in Bradbury’s mirror for five seconds as she cycled ahead of him, but the lorry still collided with her and caused catastrophic injuries.
"I believe it could have been avoided if the driver didn’t have a dashboard filled with clutter on top of a table and I am glad that Suzie’s family know we have done all we can to get justice for her death.
“Again, I will reiterate, I hope this sends a serious message to all road hauliers and drivers to review their vehicle checking processes as the safety of all road users is and always should be a priority.”
Last year, Dr Bull’s family released a tribute to her, saying: "We tragically lost our beautiful Suzie two years ago, long before her time and with so much more left to give the world. Nothing will ever replace her.
"It devastates us to know that her death was avoidable. The evidence that we have heard in the course of the trial has highlighted several areas of responsibility which need addressing so that similar circumstances in which we lost Suzie do not ever happen again.
"In conclusion we wish to emphasise the grief our family and Suzie’s friends have suffered. We are grateful for the work of the Crown Prosecution Service and West Midlands Police for their help and support."