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First Conviction and Sentence in Northern Ireland for the Offence of Corporate Manslaughter

The Crown Court in this jurisdiction has handed down its first conviction and sentence for the offence of corporate manslaughter.

The case R v JMW Farm Ltd [2012] NICC 17, related to the circumstances behind events leading to the death of a worker on a farm. This worker was cleaning a large bin located on the forks of a forklift truck. The forklift used to lift the bin off the ground was a replacement for the normal forklift. The forks of this replacement vehicle were not of the correct proportions, meaning the forks did not provide adequate support to the bin and the employee it was holding. The employee fell off the forks and the bin fell on top of him, killing him.
The employer pleaded guilty and accepted that it managed or organised its activities in a way that amounted to a gross breach of the duty of care it owed to its employee. Judgment was handed down by His Honour Judge Burgess. In the course of his judgment, he acknowledged the significant assistance he derived from the sentencing guidelines in force in England and Wales relating to this particular field. He sentenced the employer to pay a fine of £200,000 and to pay prosecution costs. Please click here for the judgment in full.

Criminal Law