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Company Director Fined £183,000 after Fatal Work Accident

A Reading cleaning company Director has been fined £183,000 by Winchester Crown Court after an employee was killed while working in the company’s depot. Mervyn Owens, Director of Mobile Sweepers (Reading) Ltd, was fined and banned from being a Company Director after admitting Health & Safety offences.

Tragically, the employee, Malcolm Hinton, of Calcot, was crushed to death after a raised hopper, weighing over half a tonne and used for collecting dirt, fell on him. He had been engaged as a casual worker at the company and was trying to repair a road-sweeping truck at the company’s yard in Riddings Farm, Headley, near Thatcham, on 6 March 2012.

Mr Hinton had no training in mechanics, and inadvertently cut through a hydraulic hose which caused the back of the truck to fall on him. He suffered massive head and chest injuries and died almost instantly.

Winchester Crown Court heard there had been no prop in place to prevent the hopper from falling, and that the road sweepers were not maintained. Repairs were found to be inadequate and staff insufficiently trained.

The Director, Mr Owens, admitted failing to discharge a Health & Safety duty and the company admitted corporate manslaughter at a previous hearing. Mr Owens was fined £183,000 and the company was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £4,000 costs. Owens was also disqualified from being a Company Director for five years after the Judge heard he had started an almost identical company after Mobile Sweepers (Reading) ceased trading on the day of the fatal accident.

The investigation that lead to the prosecution saw Hampshire Constabulary working together with the Health & Safety Executive and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to ensure the case was brought to Court and dealt with appropriately. The company, Mobile Sweepers Ltd, was convicted and fined for the offence of Corporate Manslaughter under the 2007 Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act.

Although a fatal accident compensation claim will assist this family, it will not bring back the 58 year-old grandfather, to his wife and family. Mr Hinton left behind his widow, Patricia, and four children. The tragedy here is not only his death, but the fact that the accident could have been prevented.

Tracey Graham is a Personal Injury Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Manchester.

Slater and Gordon have offices in England, Scotland & Wales and offer a free consultation for people injured in accidents through no fault of their own. Call freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we'll be happy to help.

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