A Walmersley, Greater Manchester-based operator will lose its O-licence next month after it was fined £300,000 following the death of a worker.
SR & RJ Brown was convicted of corporate manslaughter and associated health and safety offences in March after causing the death of Benjamin Edge by gross negligence. Edge, who had not been provided with safety equipment, fell from a roof that the company was dismantling during poor weather conditions in 2014.
Former SR & RJ Brown directors Christopher Brown and Robert Brown were also convicted for health and safety offences, as well as attempting to pervert the course of justice. Manchester Crown Court was told that Christopher Brown had requested that a contractor bring safety equipment to the site after Edge’s fall, to support a false claim that he had been given the equipment, while Robert Brown prepared a false method statement after Edge’s death to suggest the work had been planned sufficiently.
The brothers were each sentenced to a total of 20 months in prison. They have since been released and resigned their directorships at the firm.
Current directors and parents Jane Brown and Stephen Brown, who appeared at a public inquiry (PI) before North West traffic commissioner (TC) Simon Evans (pictured) in October, were unable to articulate the specific roles they had undertaken since their sons’ resignations.
Jane Brown accepted that the firm had breached the O-licensing requirements as it had failed to inform the Office of the Traffic Commissioner about the company’s and her sons’ convictions.
Both sons were still being paid by the business, despite the current directors’ claims that they no longer had a role in its day-to-day operation.
In his decision earlier this month, Evans said the company had a “readiness to cut corners to get the job done”.
He said: “I find it difficult to envisage a much more serious set of circumstances than those that surround the role of this company in the death of Benjamin Edge. That is, two of its directors (the Brown brothers) committing the company far beyond its capability, acting in a reckless fashion, not keeping fellow directors informed and then seeking to cover up in a most despicable fashion what they had done when things went wrong.
“I am not satisfied taking into account the history of this operator, that I can be assured that the sort of system and process failures that led to the death of Benjamin Edge will not be repeated in the future in the context of transport, particularly with the Brown brothers playing such a prominent role in it.”
The PI also considered an O-licence application by connected company Kiln Lime, which listed Robert Brown’s partner Gillian Mares as a director and Jane Brown as transport manager.
Mares accepted that she had no previous experience in looking after the transport side of the businesses, nor was she a signatory on Kiln Lime’s bank account, despite being the sole director.
The TC concluded that Mares was “no more than a front for others” and refused its application for an O-licence.
SR & RJ Brown will have its O-licence revoked on 31 January 2018.
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