Haulage boss and mechanic to be sentenced over fatal truck crash

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A haulage boss and a mechanic will be sentenced for manslaughter today after a 32-tonne truck with faulty brakes killed four people.

Matthew Gordon, 30, and Peter Wood, 55, were each convicted of four counts of manslaughter following a trial at Bristol Crown Court.

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

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.

Gordon and Wood were convicted following the trial, while the driver of the truck, Phillip Potter, 20, was cleared of all the charges he faced.

Trial judge Mr Justice Langstaff will sentence Gordon, of Dauntsey, Wiltshire, and Wood, of Brinkworth, Wiltshire, at Bristol Crown Court.

The court previously heard that Mr Potter was following Gordon - the owner of Wiltshire-based Grittenham Haulage - down the steep lane when the brakes on his 11-year-old truck failed.

He struck Mitzi and Mrs Rogers as they crossed the road, before hitting three parked cars and killing Mr Vaughan, Mr Allen and Mr Parker, who were sitting in a Volvo.

Witnesses saw smoke coming from Mr Potter's lorry and smelt the brakes burning as he drove down the hill.

The ABS warning light - indicating problems with the braking system - was also on.

Mr Potter, who had only worked at the company a few days, insisted he would never have driven the lorry had he known the brakes were faulty.

Prosecuting, Adam Vaitilingam QC described Gordon's business as "a shambles from start to finish".

Grittenham Haulage did not carry out the recommended brake efficiency tests on the vehicle, which had almost 450,000 miles on the clock at the time of the incident.

The final safety check was by Wood in January last year, weeks before the tragedy. 

Mr Vaitilingam said the inspection was "wholly inadequate" and described the truck as "an accident waiting to happen".