The director of a builders’ merchants in Worcestershire has been sentenced to 21 months’ imprisonment following the death of a cyclist who was struck by the leg of a crane that had not been secured properly.
The cyclist, 70-year-old Ella Murray died in hospital four days after the incident which happened on 20 March 2014 of Peterbrook Road, Solihull, West Midlands, reports the Birmingham Mail.
Ragnir Jutla, aged 54 and his company Buildland Limited, which has branches in Redditch and Coventry, were both found guilty of two charges of breaching health and safety legislation in connection with Mrs Murray’s death.
The company was fined £150,000 at Birmingham Crown Court and both it and Jutla were told to pay £27,687 costs each.
The lorry involved in the fatal incident was equipped with a crane for loading and unloading materials.
The court heard that neither a warning light nor a buzzer designed to alert the driver should one of the crane’s supporting legs not be secured was working.
Patrick Upward QC, speaking on behalf of Jutla, told the court: “An incident happened which no-one expected, no-one anticipated and no-one wanted.”
He added: “He made one bad mistake four years ago and he has suffered from that until this day.”
But in his sentencing remarks, Judge Patrick Thomas QC said: “It was a desperate tragedy which resulted in the death of a beloved and lovable lady.
"It was as the jury has found your responsibility.”
He told Jutla: "You found out that there were substantial debts which you had not taken into account.
"I take the view that you were scrambling and cutting corners to keep the business viable.”
The judge said that Jutla, who in his defence had produced a falsified document which claimed to show that safe systems were in place, had “tried to pull the wool over the eyes of the court.”
He also said that the company director had “fought tooth and nail” by attempting to pin the blame on others.
The judge added: “There was cost cutting at the expense of safety and obstruction of justice.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.