Peter Wood, Phillip Potter and Matthew Gordon at Bristol Crown Court on various chargesCredit:Elizabeth Cook/PA Wire I accept that neither of you intended death or injury or even brake failure. But the fact is that a lorry as heavy as this is likely to cause serious injury and death to members of the public unless properly maintainedMr Justice Langstaff “I know that in the immediate aftermath I woke up on the roadside and my concerns were that I couldn’t get up and go to Mitzi,” she said.”I was also anxious about being unable to pick up my other grandchildren who we had been on our way to collect.”The vehicle crushed a Volvo carrying Stephen Vaughan, 34, of Swansea, and Philip Allen, 52, and Robert Parker, 59, both of Cwmbran, who all died at the scene.The heavily loaded Scania truck, carrying aggregate, had almost 450,000 miles on the clock and long-standing defects with its braking system. Mr Justice Langstaff jailed Matthew Gordon, 30, of Dauntsey, Wiltshire, for seven and a half years and Peter Wood, 55, of Brinkworth, Wiltshire, for five years and three months.They were convicted of four counts of manslaughter following a trial at Bristol Crown Court. The truck’s driver, 20-year-old Phillip Potter, was cleared of all charges.Victim impact statements were read to the court by the families of the victims, who described the crash as “a tragedy that should never have happened”.The judge said Gordon, the boss of Grittenham Haulage, and mechanic Wood had a “cavalier” attitude to vehicle safety and flouted rules.”I accept that neither of you intended death or injury or even brake failure,” the judge said. “But the fact is that a lorry as heavy as this is likely to cause serious injury and death to members of the public unless properly maintained.”The brakes are critical. You know this. You knew that being casual about the safety risked the lives of others. Your failures are inexplicable. The grandmother of a girl who died when a 32-tonne truck with faulty brakes crashed and killed four people has described the horrific moment before a haulage boss and a mechanic were jailed over the tragedy.Margaret Rogers was holding hands with her four-year-old granddaughter Mitzi Steady to cross the road when the truck careered down the “very steep” hill of Lansdown Lane in Bath, Somerset, hitting them before killing three men in a car.She said she had a “clear memory of the day itself, taking Mitzi on the bus, getting off the bus and going to the pedestrian crossing” – but no recollection of what hit her. The wreckage of the tipper truck is taken away from the scene on Lansdown Lane, BathCredit:Alastair Johnstone/SWNS.com Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. “If they were one-off failures that would be bad enough, but they are not. They were part and parcel of the way you approached your responsibilities.”Signs before Lansdown Lane indicate it is unsuitable for heavy goods vehicles and there is a 6ft width restriction, meaning the 8.5ft wide lorry should not have been on it.On February 9 2015, two Grittenham Haulage lorries, one driven by Mr Potter and the other by Gordon, used Lansdown Lane as a short-cut.Mr Potter was following Gordon down the lane when the brakes on his 11-year-old truck, which had not been tested, failed. Six of the eight brakes had major defects.”It was an accident waiting to happen,” the judge said. Mr Potter and another driver had alerted Gordon to problems with the brakes but he told them to continue driving, the court heard.After the accident, Gordon told Mr Potter not to mention that an ABS warning light – indicating problems with the braking system – had been on.”You exposed Mr Potter, a young driver, to the horror of unavoidably killing a young child,” the judge told him. “You showed no immediate remorse for what happened.”Braking defects on the lorry would have been “staring” Wood in the face as he inspected the vehicle every six weeks, while there was a “botched repair” on one brake and Wood had no qualifications as a mechanic, the judge said.Speaking after the case, Detective Chief Inspector Richard Ocone, of Avon and Somerset Police, said the lorry’s brakes had an overall efficiency of just 28 per cent.
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