An Adelaide transport company owner has been found guilty of manslaughter death of a driver for the second time, following an appeal against his conviction. The jury took just under an hour to deliver unanimous guilty verdicts.
Peter Francis Colbert, 56, was found guilty of manslaughter over the death of 45-year-old driver Robert Brimson in 2014, who was killed when the brakes failed on the truck he was driving, causing it to crash into a pole on Main South Road at Happy Valley due to faulty brakes.
Mr Colbert was also found guilty of endangering the life of another driver who was involved in an earlier incident in the same truck and who had warned Mr Colbert about the failing brakes two days before the fatal crash. In Court, he had described the truck as “a death trap”.
During the trials, Mr Colbert had consistently denied having any prior knowledge of the faulty brakes despite witnesses telling the court he was repeatedly warned about the problem.
As the sole director and shareholder in Colbert Transport at Green Fields, he was responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the fleet of 11 trucks.
Mr Colbert was granted a re-trial after an appeals court found the trial judge summed up the case to the jury in a way that lacked balance. Some of the judge`s comments were described as being highly damaging to the defence.
The recent convictions are identical to those handed down at the first trial last year.
Mr Colbert was originally sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment. He has been remanded in custody to appear in court again later this month.
Know where you stand
Courts are imposing tougher penalties on companies and individuals that breach their safety responsibilities. This extends to the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL), which applies to you and your business under Chain of Responsibility (CoR) obligations, if you operate heavy vehicles or use them to transport your goods.
For instance, what are the ramifications if a freight company you are using to transport your goods contributes to a fatal accident?
Penalties for breaches of the HVNL can be imposed down the supply chain using CoR. No longer does the blame for transport accidents always sit squarely at the feet of the driver.
How do your schedules or requirements impact on transport operators? Do you exert pressure that encourages drivers to take risks by driving while fatigued or speeding or overloading?
Ignorance of the law is no excuse, so to find out what you need to know, subscribe to the CoR Adviser. Written by transport law experts at Holding Redlich, the CoR Adviser has all the information you need in an easy-to-read, concise format.
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