Haulage boss and mechanic jailed over fatal tipper truck crash

  • Video report by ITV News Wales and West of England Correspondent Rupert Evelyn

Two men have been jailed after being found guilty of manslaughter after a tipper truck with faulty brakes killed four people, including a four-year-old girl, in Bath.

Matthew Gordon, 30, and Peter Wood, 55, were given seven-and-a-half years and five years and three months respectively after they were both convicted of four counts of manslaughter following a trial at Bristol Crown Court.

The driver of the Scania truck, Phillip Potter, 20, was cleared of dangerous and careless driving.

Potter, had only worked at the company a few days, and told the court he would never had driven the lorry if he had known the brakes were faulty.

Four-year-old Mitzi Steady died and her grandmother, Margaret Rogers, suffered serious injuries when they were hit by the lorry as they crossed the road holding hands.

The vehicle continued to career down the "very steep" hill of Lansdown Lane in Bath, Somerset, and killed three men inside a car.

Stephen Vaughan, 34, of Swansea, and Philip Allen, 52, and Robert Parker, 59, both of Cwmbran, all died at the scene.

During the trial, Adam Vaitilingam QC, prosecuting , described Gordon's haulage business as "a shambles from start to finish".

Grittenham Haulage had failed to carry out recommended brake efficiency tests on the truck, which had almost 450,000 miles on the clock at the time of the incident.

The final safety check carried out by Wood in January last year, weeks before the tragedy was said to be "wholly inadequate".

A rusty offside axle bracket belonging to the tipper truck. Credit: Avon and Somerset Police
  • The victims

The four victims were struck when the heavily-loaded Scania truck careered down Lansdown Lane in Upper Weston, Bath, on February 9 last year.

Four year-old Mitzi Steady was walking with her grandmother Margaret Rogers when they were hit by the truck.

Mitzi was killed instantly and her grandmother was seriously injured.

Four-year-old Mitzi Steady was killed in the crash. Credit: Family handout

Mitzi's mother Emmajade Steady also read an emotional statement in which she described the devastating impact on the family:

"We are bereft and emotionally distraught to be without our child.

"I still find it difficult to sleep and accept that Mitzi has died. That I can no longer hold her and protect her. That she had to suffer such a sudden, traumatic, senseless death. That I was not there with her and cannot be with my beautiful girl now."

Below is her full statement:

'I'll never forget your giggles': A floral tribute to Mitzi left at the crash site. Credit: PA
  • Mitzi's grandmother: "I hardly sleep"

In a victim impact statement read out in court on her behalf, Mitzi's grandmother, whose serious injuries led to both legs being amputated below the knee, spoke about the lasting impact of that "terrible day" on her life.

"I hardly sleep, relying on audio tapes playing throughout the night to prevent me focusing on the loss of my granddaughter.

"The facts of that terrible day cause physical and mental pain that me and my family continue to live with.

The statement added: "I’m scared about the future as I become so exhausted from my disability and the effort to organise even the smallest of actions in and outside the home, and have no means of carrying on life as normal."

The scene of the incident on Lansdown Lane in Bath. Credit: PA

Robert Parker, 59, Philip Allen, 52, and Stephen Vaughan, 34, also died when the truck toppled over onto the Volvo car in which they were travelling.

  • Stephen Vaughan's wife: "I didn’t want to live"

Stephen Vaughan's wife Sian, was also present for the sentencing, and tearfully read a statement in which she said she never thought she would be widowed at 33.

Mrs Vaughan also described the dark times when she "didn't want to live".

"I didn’t want to pursue my career in Nursing and I had just given up on life as I had no purpose anymore. There were times that I thought of ways to end it all, battling with my emotions constantly.

"However, I was Steve’s wife and the only thing in life left was to make him proud."

Stephen Vaughan had married six months before he died. Credit: Family handout

"Whatever happens today will never compensate for what I have lost, no time, punishment or words will ever fill the massive void"

She went on: "Steve touched so many lives and we will never forget his purpose in life which was to smile, love, give and laugh and thankfully we were lucky enough to share in his life all be it short but, significant."

  • Denise Parker's anger at "reckless actions" that took husband away

Robert Parker's wife Denise, said: "All our future plans disappeared overnight. Every day brings a new challenge in my effort to rebuild my life. It would be so easy to give up, but he wouldn’t want me to do that."

"I feel extremely angry that the reckless actions of others took my husband away from me - a truly amazing, clever, generous, caring man."

"My son has lost his wonderful Dad and very good friend. Life for us both can never be the same again," she added.

Robert Parker's wife said his death is an 'exhausting and a harsh reality to live with'. Credit: Family handout
  • Philip Allen's wife: "A tragedy that should never have happened"

In her statement, Philip Allen's wife Louise, said: "We are absolutely heartbroken. We miss him so much all the time."

Philip Allen's wife paid tribute to her 'wonderful husband of over 30 years'. Credit: Family handout

"I hope that all of those that were responsible for the collision that day realise what devastation they have caused to my family, due to their irresponsible actions and total disregard to the rules of the road."

"It is a tragedy that should never have happened," Mrs Allen added.