Appeal Finds Operator’s Repute was Tarnished, Not Lost

O-licence

A County Down operator has had its appeal against a finding by the Transport Regulation Unit that it had lost its good repute allowed, after the upper tribunal found it was “unduly harsh”.

Instead, the panel said that the repute of Gerald Hynds was tarnished, but it agreed with the decision to revoke the O-licence.

Hynds operated five HGVs out of Downpatrick, but during the renewal process in 2018 it became apparent that the material he had provided to show financial standing failed to demonstrate the required level of capital and reserves.

The operator had indicated on his renewal form that he had a £25,000 loan/overdraft agreement and a £20,000 average credit balance and a £20,000 average debit balance on the overdraft.

The Department for Infrastructure requested bank or building society statements covering the last three months along with proof of any overdraft facility.

Hynds sent a letter from his bank giving details of the overdraft facility and bank statements in the name of “Gerald and Margaret Hynds t/a Bargainland”.

Less than the required three months’ worth were provided and those that were indicated an average undrawn balance insufficient to support a licence for even one vehicle.

The Department requested more information and warned Hynds a failure to comply might result in regulatory action.

Despite more information being provided it was deemed inadequate and the O-licence was revoked on 12 April 2019.

Hynds appealed, but the tribunal found the Department had been correct not to accept the figures provided:

“To say in the circumstances of the case that Mr Hynds had both a credit and a debit balance of £20,000 was a nonsense,” it said in a written decision.

“The Department was entitled to conclude that the evidence did not show that he had sufficient financial standing.

“That decision, far from being “plainly wrong” was correct. The licence was correctly terminated.”

However, it also found that Hynds had not tried to deceive or conceal:

“A finding of loss of repute in this case would be perceived in the industry as unduly harsh, bearing in mind in particular the lack of dishonesty and any attempt to gain competitive advantage. 

“The panel find that his repute is tarnished but could be preserved by making a compliant, properly evidenced, fresh application for a licence.”

Motorist Killed after HGV Driver Pulls up on A19

An HGV driver has been convicted of causing death by dangerous driving after a motorist collided with his lorry that had stopped on an unlit stretch of the A19.

Marcel Balan’s dangerous decision behind the wheel resulted in the death of 24-year-old John Robinson, who was travelling behind in a Ford Fusion and collided with the back of the stationary HGV.

Police said the impact in the pitch black conditions on the road near Sunderland in March 2019 saw the lorry pushed forward eight metres as the car went underneath it.

Balan, 57, was convicted following an eight-day trial at Newcastle Crown Court.

The court heard Balan was travelling southbound on the A19 carriageway, but after driving past the turn-off for the A1231 Wessington Way, he made the decision to stop his lorry in the inside lane of the carriageway.

Seconds later, Robinson’s car collided into the back, causing fatal injuries.

Upon arrest, Balan claimed he had come to a gradual stop because he had heard a noise in his lorry and feared his cargo had come loose.

This was contradicted by the data from his vehicle’s tachograph and dashcam footage, and there was no evidence of his load being insecure.

Sergeant Steve Armstrong, of Northumbria Police said: “Balan’s actions that night were irresponsible and incredibly dangerous.

“The laws of the road are not optional, they are not negotiable – they are there to keep people safe and by ignoring them Balan directly put the lives of Mr Robinson and other road users in danger.

He will be sentenced on 7 February.