Owner of transport firm sentenced for safety failings

The owner of a Leicestershire-based transport firm has been sentenced for a number of safety failings that led to the death of a mechanic.

Mark Wintersgill, 25, of Leicester, was trying to jack up a double-decker lorry trailer at the PPR Transport Services site in Lutterworth on June 25th 2012 when the fatal incident took place.

Leicester Crown Court was told by Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecutors that the jack the man was using separated from the heavy good vehicle's axle and struck him - causing what were described as "catastrophic" head injuries. 

Mr Wintersgill died at the scene and the efforts of his colleagues to save his life were in vain.

Upon hearing of the young mechanic's death, the HSE launched an inspection and found business owner Paul Roberts should have planned the lifting of lorry trailers in a safer manner and implicated him in the 25-year-old's death.

For these failings, Mr Roberts, also of Leicester, was fined £12,000 and told to pay costs of £43,000 after he pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety of Work etc Act 1974 for failing to protect his employees. He was not given a custodial sentence.

After the hearing HSE inspector David Lefever commented: "This was a tragic incident that could have been prevented had a few basic precautions been taken.

"Mr Roberts should have ensured that this regular work activity was carried out in a safe location on firm, level ground. He should also have ensured his employees were supplied with the correct equipment and that they were trained in how to use that equipment safely."

The fatally injured mechanic's mother, Jeanine Erasmus spoke after the trial about the love she had for her son, calling it a "privilege and honour" to have seen him grow up over the years until his untimely death.

But now, the grieving mother said, she will have to go on living with an "emptiness" inside her left in her son's absence.

By Francesca Witney