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Case Study 6, Haulage-firm bosses imprisoned for manslaughter of lorry driver

 
28 June 2013
 
A father and son who ran a haulage firm have been jailed for the manslaughter of one of their drivers who fell asleep at the wheel after working excessive hours.
 

Adrian John McMurray, 54, and Adrian Paul McMurray, 36, were sentenced today (28 June) following their conviction in May this year for the manslaughter of Stephen Kenyon, a driver for their firm, Northamptonshire-based AJ Haulage.
 
Sitting at St Albans Crown Court Judge Andrew Bright QC sentenced the elder McMurray to four years in prison and his son to two-and-a-half years for the manslaughter. They received a further three years and one-and-a-half years, respectively, for a number of revenue offences, including failure to pay tax on income totalling more than £5 million.
 
Father of four Mr Kenyon had been working for 19 hours when his 39-tonne lorry crashed into stationary traffic on the southbound carriageway of the M1 between Luton and Dunstable on 12 February 2010.
 
Traffic ahead of him had come to a standstill because of congestion but, despite braking hard at the last minute, Mr Kenyon crashed into the lorry in front of him. The cab of his vehicle was crushed and he sustained head and chest injuries. He was pronounced dead at the scene, at 2.26am.
 
Tachographs on his vehicle showed he had been at work since 5am the previous day and that he had been driving for more than 13 hours, travelling almost 600 miles. Under road-haulage legislation commercial lorries can only be driven for a maximum of 10 hours in a 24-hour period, and then only two days a week.
 
Prosecuting the case Charles Miskin QC said the McMurrays were aware that Mr Kenyon had been driving longer hours than legally allowed because he had large debts and was trying to increase his earnings. He added that, owing to rapid growth of the firm in the five years leading up to the incident, there were rarely enough drivers to cope with the amount of work and employees were frequently asked to work over and above permitted hours.
 
Mr Miskin stated: "[Mr Kenyon's] death was the utterly foreseeable consequence of the way the defendants conducted their business. It was an accident waiting to happen. Their negligence had exposed him to the risk of death and that failure had been so reprehensible that it amounted to gross negligence."
 
Adrian John McMurray and Adrian Paul McMurray denied manslaughter by gross negligence but the jury convicted the father unanimously and the son by a majority of ten to two.
 
Judge Bright QC told them: "Heavy lorries pose a very real threat to other road users and that threat was substantially increased by the way you ran your haulage business. You ran the business with scant regard to your legal obligations and cutting every corner to maximise your profits."
 
Andrew Biker, a specialist lawyer for the CPS, said: "Through the utterly reckless management of their haulage firm the McMurrays showed consistent disregard for the health and safety of their employees and the wider public.
 
"This negligent approach to the running of their business was further demonstrated when they failed to pay tax on more than £5 million worth of income over a four-year period. Everything about this case indicates that the McMurrays prioritised making personal profits for themselves over the safety of their drivers or other road users."
 
Source: SHP Online