Belfast Telegraph

Farmer fined £187,000 over death

One of Northern Ireland's largest pig farmers has been fined £187,000 in the region's first successful prosecution for corporate manslaughter.

Robert Wilson, 45, was working at a meal mixing plant on the farm in Co Armagh when he was killed after a metal bin fell off a forklift truck and crushed him.

The bin had not been attached to the forklift properly.

Belfast Recorder Judge Tom Burgess said: "Yet again the court is faced with an incident where common sense would have shown that a simple, reasonable and effective solution would have been available to prevent this tragedy."

JMW Farms Ltd owns the farm at Tynan, Co Armagh, and was fined a record £187,500 plus £13,000 costs at Belfast's Laganside courthouse for corporate manslaughter, a gross breach of a duty of care.

On November 15 2010, father-of-two Mr Wilson was washing the inside of the large metal bin, which was on the forks in a raised position. He was standing on another piece of equipment, a bale compactor, but when the bin was being moved away he jumped on to the side of the bin, it toppled and he fell to the ground, with the container landing on top of him.

One of the directors of the firm, Mark Wright, was driving the forklift. He and his brother and fellow-director Jim Wright were close friends of the victim.

The forklift, a replacement for the normal machine which was undergoing servicing, had forks which did not correspond with the position of sleeves on the 200-kilo (440lb) bin designed to prevent it from falling.

The judge, sitting in Belfast Crown Court, said this had been the situation for some time.

Judge Burgess said: "It was clearly foreseeable that the failure to address this hazard would lead to serious injury and indeed that the consequences could well be fatal."

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