15 year sentence for ‘lawless’ HGV operator

The director of a haulage firm from Hull has been sentenced to 15 years imprisonment following conviction after trial of two counts of Gross Negligence Manslaughter.

Andrew Thomas QC and Ellen Shaw prosecuted Michael Holgate, the owner of the RM Group of haulage companies who specialised in the transport of mobile homes and static caravans. The Court heard that his companies had a history of poor maintenance and regulatory breaches. He had previously been suspended by the Traffic Commissioners from holding an Operators’ Licence.

The case arose out of a crash on the M62 at Ouse Bridge in April 2018. A 31 tonne Scania truck belonging to RM Group and carrying a 4.9 metre wide mobile home lost control, jack-knifed, crossed onto the opposite carriageway and collided with an oncoming motorist. The driver and passenger were both killed. The root cause of the accident was defective brakes on the HGV which had been present for more than 2 weeks. The defect had been reported by the driver but he had been instructed to carry on with a long-distance delivery.

Michael Holgate, who was defended by John Harrison QC and Helen Chapman, was convicted after trial at Hull Crown Court. He had earlier pleaded guilty to Failing to Ensure the Safety of Others, contrary to s.3 HSWA.

The driver, Jack Beston, pleaded guilty to two counts of Causing Death by Dangerous Driving. He was sentenced to 6 years imprisonment.

Andrew Thomas and Ellen Shaw also previously prosecuted Baldwins Crane Hire Ltd in the first case of Corporate Manslaughter to arise out of a commercial vehicle operation. They were instructed by Ben Southam of the CPS Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division.

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