Two men are to be sentenced for manslaughter after the brakes of a 32-tonne truck failed, killing four people and seriously injuring another.
In the road accident, four-year-old Mitzi Steady, who was struck by the out of control lorry, was killed along with three men in a car. The girl’s grandmother, Margaret Rogers, also suffered serious injuries in the accident.
Boss and mechanic found guilty
Haulage boss Matthew Gordon, 30, and mechanic Peter Wood, 55, were convicted of four counts of manslaughter at a trial at Bristol Crown Court.
The firm had its licence revoked shortly after the accident.
Phillip Potter, 20, was driving the truck at the time of the incident. He was following Mr Gordon, who owned Wiltshire-based Grittenham Haulage, down a steep lane in Bath.
The brakes on Mr Potter’s 11-year-old truck then failed. He struck Mitzi and Mrs Rogers as they crossed the road. The truck continued down the hill, crashing into three parked cars.
The three men were all in a Volvo when it was hit. They died at the scene.
Witnesses described smoke spewing from the lorry and said they could smell the brakes burning. Mr Potter, who was cleared of any wrongdoing, said the ABS warning light was on.
Mr Potter had only been at the company a few days, and claims he would never have driven the lorry if he’d known the brakes were faulty.
Firm described as a ‘shambles’
Trial judge Mr Justice Langstaff will sentence Mr Gordon and Mr Wood at Bristol Crown Court.
Prosecuting, Adam Vaitilingam QC said that Mr Gordon’s business was “a shambles from start to finish”.
It was revealed in the trial that the haulage firm had failed to carry out the recommended brake efficiency tests on the vehicle. The vehicle had nearly 450,000 miles on the clock at the time of the incident.
Despite this, a safety check was carried out by Wood just weeks before the tragedy. But this inspection was described by Mr Vaitilingam as “wholly inadequate”. The truck was described as “an accident waiting to happen”.
Source: Evening Express
Date Published: February 5, 2017
Author: Jonathan Brown