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Decision to Charge

Once the Police have completed their investigations, they will refer the case to the Crown Prosecution Service for advice on how to proceed. We will then make a decision on whether a suspect should be charged, and what that charge should be.

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Prosecuting Homicide

Murder and manslaughter are two of the offences that constitute homicide.

Manslaughter can be committed in one of three ways:

  1. killing with the intent for murder but where there is provocation, diminished responsibility or a suicide pact.
  2. conduct that was grossly negligent given the risk of death, and resulted in death.
  3. conduct, taking the form of an unlawful act involving a danger of some harm, that caused death.

With some exceptions, the crime of murder is committed, where a person:

  • of sound mind and discretion (i.e. sane):
  • unlawfully kills (i.e. not self-defence or other justified killing)
  • any reasonable creature (human being)
  • in being (born alive and breathing through its own lungs)
  • under the Queen's Peace
  • with intent to kill or cause grievous bodily harm.

There are other specific homicide offences, for example, infanticide, causing death by dangerous driving, and corporate manslaughter.

Find out more about prosecuting homicide

Austin & McLean and Esso to be charged in relation to the death of Juan Antonio Quintanilla Romero


Mr Juan Antonio Quintanilla Romero was working on a fuel tanker which had docked at the Oil Refinery in Fawley, Southampton, when he tragically died on 30 August 2008. A large fuel pipe collapsed on him after the jib from which it was suspended gave way as a connector bolt, which was severely corroded, failed.

Hampshire Police Service and the Health and Safety Executive have investigated the incident, and liaised with the Crown Prosecution Service for advice on whether any criminal charges should be brought against either Esso Petroleum Company Limited (Esso) - who own the Fawley Refinery and the jib that collapsed - or Austin and McLean Limited - who were hired by Esso to undertake maintenance on the jib.

Gaon Hart, Senior Crown Advocate in the Special Crime team at the CPS said:

"I have very carefully considered the evidence and have decided that Austin and McLean Limited should be charged with offences including an offence of gross negligence manslaughter, relating to a gross breach of their duty of care towards Mr Romero.

"I have also decided that Esso should be charged with Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 offences including those under sections 2, 3 and 4 relating to a failure to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of employees and visitors.

"I have concluded that there is sufficient evidence resulting from the investigation to provide a realistic prospect of conviction and that a prosecution is required in the public interest. Those are the tests set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors.

"Both companies have now been summonsed on criminal offences. It is very important that nothing is said, or reported, which could prejudice the trial."


Background information: 

Juan Antonio Quintanilla Romero (born 8/2/1968) was from Honduras.

Representatives of Esso and Austin and McLean Limited will appear at Southampton Magistrates' Court on 5 September 2012. 

Offences to be charged:

 Esso Petroleum Company Limited

  • Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 s.2, 3 & 4
  • Regulation 9 of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER)
  • Regulation 5 Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER 98)

Austin and McLean Limited

  • Gross negligence manslaughter against the company (corporate manslaughter under the common law)
  • Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 s.2 & 3