Owner of firm prosecuted after customer dies in accident at workplace

by Redmans Solicitors on December 20, 2013

The owner of a Berkshire car maintenance firm has been heavily fined after a customer was killed in a workplace accident in 2012.

Mr Mark Walker, 79, was fined £7,500 by the Crown Court and ordered to pay substantial costs after a customer was killed in a workplace accident at his car maintenance business on 12 March 2012.

On the day in question Mr Walker, who owns the car maintenance firm “Complete Car Care”  in Wraysbury, Berkshire, was working at the firm’s premises. Mr Walker was reversing his van down the driveway as Mr Frederick Gleeson, 79, was leaving the premises, having dropped his car off to have an oil leak checked. Mr Gleeson was unable to react in time to the oncoming vehicle and was struck, leading to his banging his head on the driveway. He later died in hospital on the same day from his injuries.

The Health and Safety Executive subsequently investigated the accident and found that there had been a number of health and safety breaches by Mr Walker at the firm. In particular, he had put in place no system for managing the movement of vehicles at the premises and had made no effort to ensure that pedestrians and vehicles were segregated. Further, he had no direct rear visibility and a rear monitoring camera that had been fitted to the van hadn’t been used.  The HSE therefore recommended a prosecution of the firm.

The case came before the Reading Crown Court on 13 December 2013. Mr Walker pleaded not guilty to the charges brought under two separate breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and there was a week-long trial, culminating on 18 December 2013. Mr Walker was found guilty of the breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £7,500, as well as being ordered to undertake 250 hours of community service. He is also technically liable for the prosecution’s costs, which amount to around £75,000, although this figure will apparently be covered by his insurance. The Judge ruled that Mr Walker’s breach of duty was a direct cause of Mr Gleeson’s death.

Neither Mr Walker nor his criminal defence lawyers appear to have commented on the sentencing since it was released.

HSE inspector Mr Nigel Fitzhugh stated after the sentencing: “Mr Gleeson’s tragic death was entirely preventable, and could have been avoided had Mark Walker taken precautions before reversing his van.”

Redmans Solicitors are employment law solicitors and can help persons who have been injured in the workplace or elsewhere claim personal injury

Please note that Redmans Solicitors were not associated in any way with this case

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