Company Fined £700K After Death of W.York Driver

22 December 2015, 17:45 | Updated: 22 December 2015, 17:57

A company has been fined £700,000 for corporate manslaughter after the brakes failed on a 125-tonne mobile crane and killed the driver who was from West Yorkshire.

A company has been fined £700,000 for corporate manslaughter after the brakes failed on a 125-tonne mobile crane and killed the driver who was from West Yorkshire.

Lindsay Easton, 49, lost control down a steep descent at Scout Moor wind farm in East Lancashire and crashed into the banking of an escape lane.

The experienced operator from Sowerby Bridge, died of multiple injuries following the crash in August 2011.

His family believe that bid to steer away from an access road to the public highway in Edenfield had potentially prevented more deaths, the court heard.

Last month, Baldwins Crane Hire Limited was convicted by a jury at Preston Crown Court of the offence and also failing to ensure the safety of its employees and other persons.

Following the incident an investigation was launched by Lancashire Police, working alongside the Health and Safety Executive.

It was found several of the wheel brakes were inoperable, worn and contaminated, while the engine braking systems were discovered to be either non-functional, disabled and damaged providing only limited braking force.

Brakes were inspected across the Baldwins fleet with several other cranes found to have significant issues which required immediate work.

Significant failings were also found within the company structure. There was a lack of supervision and recording taking place of organised maintenance work by senior management.

Sentencing, Judge Pamela Badley said: "The jury decided that the cause of the crash was brake failure and it was as a result of gross negligence on the part of senior management of the company who had failed to put systems in place for safe working and monitoring."

She added that it was the belief of Mr Easton's family that he "prevented others from being harmed ... by driving into the escape lane and suffering the consequences himself".

Speaking after the hearing, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector Kevin Jones said: "This was a complex investigation involving a high level of collaboration between HSE and Lancashire Police especially in relation to the forensic examination of the crane's braking systems.

"This joint working with Lancashire Police contributed to bringing this case to a successful conclusion.

"I also wish to pay tribute to the heroic actions of Mr Easton which helped prevent an even greater potential tragedy by his attempt to stop the crane on the run-off lane rather than continuing down the access road and onto the public highway."

Baldwins were also ordered to pay £200,000 prosecution costs, with the total amount to be paid over the next five years.

Company boss Richard Baldwin, who was present in court today, had previously entered not guilty pleas to the three charges.

Outside court, Chelsea Easton said: "My little brother has become a teenager, I've graduated from university and become a teacher. As far as I'm concerned he (her father) should have been there.

"He wasn't ill, he didn't put himself in a reckless situation. He went to work and he died in a situation that could have been avoided.''

A CPS spokeswoman said: "The company had a duty of care to its employees to maintain the crane to ensure it was safe and roadworthy. This hadn't happened. The jury also found that the company had put other road users at risk due to poor maintenance of its vehicles.

"Following further investigations of the company's fleet, several cranes were found to have faults with their brakes or other operating systems. Had the company serviced and maintained the vehicles, this accident would never have happened. Mr Easton put his safety in the hands of his employer and they failed him."