A HAULAGE company has been fined £150,000 after a 'caring' and 'selfless' father was crushed to death by a reversing lorry following a series of health and safety blunders.

Kevin Scott died while acting as an untrained banksman at Tooles Transport yard in Rushock Trading Estate, Droitwich. The sentencing of the company for breaching its general duty to an employee took place at Worcester Crown Court yesterday.

The sentencing brought some measure of closure to his family, including sons, Greg and Christopher Scott, who attended the hearing and described the loss of their father as 'devastating'.

Greg Scott said after the sentence: "We're just happy it's all done. It's closure. He was stoic. He was strong. He was caring. He gave 100 per cent. He cared for people more than himself at times. He was very selfless. He was my dad at the end of the day. He was someone me and Chris could talk to, a shoulder to cry on."

Tooles Transport Limited was convicted of the single count after a four week trial at Worcester Crown Court. The prosecution was conducted by the Health and Safety Executive and prosecuted by Bernard Thorogood while John Cooper acted for the defence.

Mr Scott, aged 60, of died on December 11, 2013 after he was crushed by the goods vehicle at the yard at around 6pm. The lorry was performing a blind side reversing manoeuvre with Mr Scott acting as a banksman. Emergency services were called but he could not be saved.

Judge Robert Juckes QC said Mr Scott was an 'experienced driver' who had worked for Tooles Transport for a number of years. Shaun Jennings, another experienced driver, was driving the lorry which killed Mr Scott and was kept on in his job afterwards.

Judge Juckes said: "The evidence plainly shows that he (Mr Scott) was acting as an untrained banksman at the time he died and had got himself into a dangerous position, very probably, in my finding, because he was trying to protect his own vehicle from damage to the driver's side mirror."

The judge said Mr Jennings performed this blind side reverse because of the position of other vehicles in the yard and it was not a manoeuvre he would have chosen to perform.

Judge Juckes said: "I acknowledge the tragedy of the situation and the impact it has had."

The court heard Mr Scott would never know his granddaughter who was now about seven months old.

The judge acknowledged the discussion of costs which preceded the sentence was 'not an attractive thing' but 'has to be done'.

A number of health and safety issues had been identified at the time of Mr Scott's death. These included the use of untrained banksmen (a banksman helps drivers when manoeuvring); the segregation of pedestrians and vehicles; the movement of vehicles around the yard's central reservation; the labelling of pallets which put drivers in close proximity to manoeuvring lorries and the level of lighting.

The judge said there was two metres between the lorries and minor collisions happened between them 'not infrequently'.

Judge Juckes said the company's director John Toole, who was present at the hearing, placed a lot of trust in his drivers and was shown to be a 'particularly good leader of men' who was 'devoted' to his employees.

"He feels the loss of this employee as much as anyone" said Judge Juckes.

The judge said 'sloppy practice' had developed in the yard and he said it was 'a sad fact of this case that Mr Toole was aware of the risk of untrained banksmen'.

"It would be wrong to deal with the company on the basis they completely ignored such concerns" said the judge.

However, he said health and safety breaches in these areas must have subsisted for from four to five years, placing the offence in the 'medium culpability' sentencing bracket.

The court heard around 60 drivers used the yard and they were exposed to risk as a result of working practices. However, no other report had been against the company in 40 years.

There were no previous convictions against Tooles Transport Limited which had sought to remedy the issues raised by the HSE. The judge found no aggravating features.

Judge Juckes imposed a fine of £150,000 which the company will pay at a rate of £30,000 per year over a period of five years. Costs were placed at £253,728 including £137,000 in counsel costs (accrued over three years), a figure disputed by the defence but ruled to be 'not excessive' by the judge. The judge, in imposing the fine, also acknowledged the company's narrow profit margin.

The costs are expected to be paid by the insurance company. It was also revealed at the hearing that Mr Toole plans to sell the company. He declined to speak to the Worcester News 'at this time' after the hearing.