The son of a disqualified director who was “pushed” into acting as the figurehead for a haulage company in order to mask his dad’s involvement, has now been disqualified himself.
TC Nick Denton said it was “extremely unlikely” that 21-year-old Ronan Keown was the controlling mind of Coopers Recycling and the evidence suggested his father, Brian Keown, was running the Stafford business. Brian was disqualified indefinitely in 2012 after another traffic commissioner found him to be a “dishonest, manipulative individual”.
Coopers Recycling appeared before Denton at a Birmingham PI after one of its vehicles was pulled over at the roadside and its driver was found to be using more than one tachograph card. A follow-up investigation uncovered a raft of compliance failures, including vehicles frequently parked overnight near the drivers’ homes; six-weekly preventative maintenance inspections not being carried out; roadworthiness prohibitions and missing driver defect reports.
At the PI, former transport manager Richard Doughty admitted he had not exercised the required level of continuous and effective management. He said he had taken it for granted that drivers were fulfilling their roles and had drawn up compliance procedures but had not done enough to ensure they were implemented. Doughty also told the TC that Brian would tell him when the six-weekly safety inspections were due and he would then book them in. He said he felt as though he was not in control and so he eventually resigned.
TC Denton found that the company had been using unauthorised operating centres and there were significant gaps in the maintenance records. In his written decision, he said Brian Keown had “clearly been exercising a directing role, in contravention of his disqualification.” Denton said: “Ronan Keown was unsure of almost all the details of the operation, and I find that his knowledge had hardly improved by the day of the inquiry, when he was unable to explain why vehicles were still – after six months - missing their safety inspection deadlines, other than to say that things had been ‘hectic’.”
He said Doughty had lost his repute and disqualified him for 12 months. The TC also revoked the licence and disqualified Ronan for 12 months, adding that he had some sympathy for him, given the pressure he had been put under by his father.