TC’s trust in operator ‘totally destroyed’

Commercial Motor
August 17, 2022

A Wiltshire tool and plant hire operator has been disqualified for 10 years after forging signatures on maintenance documents and failing to comply with tachograph downloading requirements for more than a decade.

Rapid Hire (Swindon) appeared before traffic commissioner (TC) Kevin Rooney at a Bristol public inquiry (PI) after a DVSA investigation uncovered shortcomings across a wide range of areas.

Director Robert Pasqualitto admitted that he had forged the maintenance documentation on multiple occasions and signed vehicles off as roadworthy without any competent individual having inspected them and without any under-vehicle inspection facilities.

On one inspection, service brake performance was recorded at 49% – below the legal minimum – and yet still signed off as roadworthy.

Further questioning by the TC revealed that the director had failed to download digital tachograph records for more than 12 years and there had been no analysis of the data on the vehicle unit.

Pasqualitto said he had tried to be compliant, but it was all too much for him.

In his written decision, Rooney said: “The maintenance and tachograph failings are strongly negative features. More negative still is the operator’s fabrication of maintenance records during 2020.

“I can identify 16 occasions when Mr Pasqualitto has forged a signature of a Mr Maxfield. Such an action totally destroys the trust that must exist between the regulator and the regulated.

“I also take in to account the operator’s failure to comply with the directions in the call-in letter to provide documents in advance. Financial evidence has not been provided at all. Mr Pasqualitto did not seek legal representation, which calls in to question whether he understood the severity of the situation.”

The TC said the case had a very serious aggravating feature in the forgery of the maintenance documents, and as it was the operator’s second PI, then he needed to disqualify the director for a period of time at the top end of the scale.

He added: “Whilst I disqualify him personally for 10 years, my order of disqualification for the company is indefinite in that I will permit an application at any time for the disqualification to be lifted.”

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