Sentencing for M1 fatal collision

28/06/2013

A father and son were today, Friday, 28 June 2013, sentenced at St Albans Crown Court to a total of eleven years in prison in connection with the death of a lorry driver on the M1 in Hertfordshire between junctions 10 and 9, which occurred in February 2010. They had been found guilty by a Jury on 10 May 2013.

Adrian John McMurray, aged 54 from Frobisher Close in Daventry, Northamptonshire, and Adrian Paul McMurray, aged 36 from Ivy Road in Northampton were found guilty of the Manslaughter, on the basis of gross negligence, of 35-year-old Stephen Kenyon, who was a driver employed at their haulage firm, and offences under the Health and Safety Work Act 1974. They had been on trial since 06 March 2013.

Adrian John was sentenced to a total of seven years in custody; four years for manslaughter and three years for fraud.  Along with the offences he was found guilty of, he had pleaded guilty to offences of Cheating the Public Revenue by failing to declare income of £5.1 million, resulting in an income tax loss of £311,000, failing to operate PAYE and National Insurance of £470,000 on individuals employed, and being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of VAT totalling £424,000 under the VAT Act 1994. He had also pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of an offensive weapon at an earlier date.

Adrian Paul was sentenced to four years in custody; two and a half years for manslaughter and three years for fraud.  Along with the offences he was found guilty of, he had pleaded guilty to offences of Cheating the Public Revenue by failing to operate PAYE and National Insurance of £139,921 on individuals employed.

Stephen died after losing concentration at the wheel of the 39 ton lorry he was driving for the McMurray's firm; A.J. Haulage, causing it to collide with stationary traffic on the M1 motorway. The court heard that Mr Kenyon was almost certainly asleep at the time of the collision having been required to drive for longer than the legally permitted number of hours in the 24 hours leading up to the incident.

The court also heard the two defendants actively encouraged Stephen and other members of their workforce to illegally use two tachographs in their vehicles to allow them to work longer than their regulated hours.

Tachographs monitor the length of time a driver has driven for and legislation states that in the UK and Europe drivers of large commercial vehicles are only allowed to drive a maximum of nine hours in a 24 hour period and ten hours twice a week. The court heard that Mr Kenyon had been on duty for 19 hours and 15 minutes. He had driven for 13 hours and 8 minutes during this time, covering 592 miles.

The two men were also accused of not retaining the tachographs as they were legally required to do and of running their business in a wholly dishonest manner.

Andrew Biker, a specialist lawyer for the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "Adrian John and Adrian Paul McMurray failed abjectly in their duty of care to their employees, and it was this gross negligence that resulted in the tragic death of one of their haulage drivers, Stephen Kenyon.

"Through the utterly reckless management of their haulage firm the McMurrays showed consistent disregard for the health and safety of their employees and the wider public.

"This negligent approach to the running of their business was further demonstrated when they failed to pay tax on more than £5 million worth of income over a four year period. Everything about this case indicates that the McMurrays prioritised making personal profits for themselves over the safety of their drivers or other road users.

"I extend my condolences to the family of Mr Kenyon."

Detective Inspector John Arthur from the Joint Major Crime Unit led the investigation and said: "These men had a total disregard for the safety of their workforce and other road users and whilst Stephen was aware of what he was doing, this practise should never have occurred let alone been encouraged. Their negligence ultimately led to Stephen's death.

"We have worked tirelessly to bring this complex case to court and I am pleased the McMurray's have been sentenced for their actions.

"My thoughts are with Stephen's family, particularly his children. I would also like to pay tribute to Stephen's parents, who have attended court every day, for their dignity and respect.

"I would also like to take this opportunity to remind all drivers that driving whilst tired can be extremely dangerous. People should take suitable breaks to ensure the safety of themselves and others."

Working with the Joint Major Crime Unit, a parallel criminal investigation was launched by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) into the tax affairs of A J Haulage, previously based in Daventry. The firm was operated by Adrian John McMurray and his son Adrian Paul McMurray, along with their bookkeeper Heather Parkinson.

HMRC uncovered a network of tax fraud totalling £1.2 million. The business failed to declare income of over £5.1 million, didn't pay income tax or VAT and failed to operate PAYE and National Insurance on wages paid to their employees.

Gary Forbes, Acting Head of Criminal Taxes Unit, HMRC, said: "The McMurrays were calculated and ruthless in their pursuit of making money, regardless of the consequences. They failed to declare their earnings to HMRC and didn't pay the taxes that were due and showed a total disregard for the welfare of their employees. Paying tax is not optional; it is a serious crime that we are determined to eradicate.

"We will continue to work closely with our law enforcement colleagues to ensure justice is served."

Heather Parkinson, aged 69 of Parkhill, Dromore, Northern Ireland, was sentenced to twenty seven months in prison.  She had pleaded guilty to offences of Cheating the Public Revenue by failing to declare income tax of £5.1 million, resulting in an Income Tax loss of £311,000, failing to declare personal income of £15,000, and being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of VAT totalling £424,000 under the VAT Act 1994.