Company behind 125-tonne digger crash death fined £700,000

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

The scene of the crash

The experienced operator from Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire, 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.

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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.

Undated handout photo issued by Lancashire Police of Lindsay Easton who died when he lost control while driving a 125-tonne mobile crane

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.

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 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 had previously entered not guilty pleas to the three charges.

In a victim personal statement read to the court, Mr Easton’s widow Susan said that the lives of their family had “changed forever” from August 15 2011.

His daughter Chelsea said her father had already missed key events in her life but she knew he would be “incredibly proud” of her.