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Corporate manslaughter firm gets lowest fine ever seen

Only six companies have ever been convicted of corporate manslaughter in the UK. However, the £8,000 fine, which was handed down to Mobile Sweepers (Reading) Ltd, known as MSRL, was the lowest ever seen for their offence.

The suggested fine for their particular offence is a minimum of £500,000. But, the judge did comment that if the company were a larger one, with a bigger turnover, the fine would have been around £1 million.

MSRL was convicted after one of its workers, Malcolm Hinton, was killed as he tried to repair one of their road sweepers. In addition, the owner of the company, Mervyn Owens, was charged with gross negligence manslaughter, a Health and Safety offence under Section 2 and an offence under regulation 5(1) of The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations.

Mr Hinton was requested to carry out repairs to one of MSRL's road sweepers, but had been given no training, nor did he have any qualifications to complete the task he was given by Mervyn Owens. Mr Hinton was working underneath the raised hopper, which contained the rubbish collected from sweeping the streets. The vehicle was 14 years old, and he had been told the repairs were urgent, and needed to be completed before the next day.

When Mr Hinton accidently removed a hydraulic hose, the hopper, which weighed about a half a tonne landed on him, causing fatal injuries to his head and chest. There was a prop, which should have been used to stop this exact accident from happening, but it could not be applied as the vehicle was in such a poor condition.

Mervyn Owens was told by the court that his company was ‘run on a shoestring with little regard for the health and safety of his employees'. Alongside the £8,000 fine and £4,000 in costs given against MRSL, Mr Owens was ordered to pay £183,000 plus £8,000 in costs.

Fatal accidents at work have a huge cost and no one should lose their life just because they turned up to work. If you have lost someone through a fatal work accident, speak to one of our specialist personal injury solicitors for legal advice about your next steps. Call 01302 320621.

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