Greedy transport boss facing jail for killing two men in M62 crash

The boss of a transport group could face prison after he was found guilty of manslaughter after two men died following a devastating crash on the M62. Michael Holgate, 39, was running the firm RM Group when one of his vehicles was involved in a fatal crash on the Ouse Bridge, near Goole, on April 3, 2018. : Motorcyclist tragically dies after crash with A63 sign in Hull

Jack Beston, of Duncombe Drive in Driffield, already pleaded guilty to two counts of death by dangerous driving when he appeared at Hull Crown Court last year. The court heard that both Beston and the company knew the caravan transporter he was driving had faulty brakes.

The caravan transporter involved in the M62 crash on the Ouse Bridge in 2018

He was driving a caravan transporter westbound on the M62 near Goole on April 3 2018 when it crashed through the central reservation and collided with a black Lexus car travelling eastbound. Nigel Eley, 41, and John-Paul Cassidy, 37, were travelling in the Lexus car.

Nigel died at the scene and John-Paul passed away in hospital 10 days later. The M62 was closed for more than 18 hours following the crash.

On Friday at Hull Crown Court Holgate, of Munstead Way, Brough, was found guilty of two counts of manslaughter through gross negligence and two counts of causing death while uninsured. He had previously entered a guilty plea to one offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

He was found guilty following a two-week trial which began on Wednesday, June 9. Both he and Beston are due to be sentenced next week. The court heard how the 30-tonne articulated truck carrying a large static caravan was heading west along the M62, driven by Beston.

Greedy transport boss facing jail for killing two men in M62 crashNigel Eley who died following a crash on the M62 Ouse Bridge

While only 35 miles into a 580 miles journey to West Sussex, Beston lost control of the vehicle on the Ouse Bridge and it careered through the central reservation.

It crossed over into the opposite carriageway and collided with the black Lexus Nigel and John-Paul were travelling in. Speaking of her loss, Nigel’s wife said: “The despicable way in which Michael Holgate ran his business has devastated my family. “Due to his actions, my beloved husband lost his life and my boys had their father and hero taken from them at the tender ages of nine and four years old.

For the latest Hull Live headlines direct to your inbox, click here. “My hope is that this case prevents anyone else from being placed at the risk of such ignorance. My thoughts are also with the family of John-Paul Cassidy”

The family of John-Paul Cassidy also spoke of their loss. His parents said: “In April of 2018 our lives and those of our two sons changed for ever, when our youngest son, John-Paul, was tragically taken from us. “The past three years have been very difficult for all our family.

Greedy transport boss facing jail for killing two men in M62 crashJohn-Paul Cassidy who died following a crash on the M62 Ouse Bridge

“Now that justice has been served, as the law allows and the shameful way that Michael Holgate ran and covered up his business activities, has been exposed with no concern for his employees or other road users and with greed being his sole motive, we hope that clamping down on these practices in future will be more swift and commonplace.

“Our love and thoughts also go to the Eley family. Sergeant Rob Mazingham of Humberside Police Serious Collision Unit, also spoke after Holgate was found guilty. He said: “Following any road traffic collision where someone loses their life an extensive and lengthy investigation takes place.

The investigation looks at the circumstances of the collision and of the vehicles involved. “Thorough mechanical investigations were carried out on the LGV transporter and mechanical faults were found, including, and most seriously, the serious failure of the brakes. “Jack Beston knew as he drove the vehicle down the M62 that day that his brakes were not working.

“He had reported on numerous previous occasions that the brakes were faulty and yet, rather than pull his vehicle safely over and call for mechanical assistance, he continued his journey which ended in fatal consequences.”

Sgt Mazingham also condemned Holgate’s actions and the fact he shirked his safety responsibilities. “For his part Michael Holgate owned the haulage company which was responsible for maintaining this any other vehicles in his fleet,” he said. “He was responsible for making sure his vehicles were roadworthy.

Our investigation found mechanical faults with this vehicle which clearly showed Holgate’s disregard for his responsibilities. “The brakes to the trailer of this vehicle were seriously defective. There was no problem with the brakes on the tractor unit itself, but there was a faulty valve in the coupling to the trailer which meant that the air brakes on the trailer were not functioning as they should.

Greedy transport boss facing jail for killing two men in M62 crashTRAGEDY ON THE M62: Emergency services at the scene of the crash near the Ouse Bridge

“Our investigation revealed a shocking picture of a company culture with complete disregard of safety and maintenance.”

“Our investigation also revealed that although the vehicle involved was insured, the policy stated that all drivers must be over the age of 25 years, Beston in this case was not.” The court heard Holgate had only recently served a three-month ban from operating LGVs because of past breaches. He was allowed to resume under a licence which restricted the number of vehicles which he was allowed to operate.

He got around that restriction by registering a number of his vehicles against the licences of other operators, but the prosecution say he remained in control of the entire fleet and the poor maintenance and driving practices continued.

Ben Southam, specialist prosecutor, said: “The tragic loss of Nigel Eley and John Cassidy could have been avoided if Michael Holgate had done his job and ensured that the vehicles in his fleet were fit for purpose. “The driver had reported on numerous occasions that there was an issue with the ABS warning light, yet Holgate failed to ensure that the issue was identified and rectified. “The CPS worked hard to prove that his grossly negligent behaviour was a determining factor in the accident.

I hope that the verdicts today will bring some justice for the families of the victims.” Sgt Mazingham hopes the terrible loss of life, what had been heard in court and the guilty verdict will act as a warning to other transport operators.

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He said: “If there is something that must come from this tragic incident, it is that company owners must adhere to a duty of care to the public. “People have an expectancy to trust that businesses ensure that they are operating safely and carrying out regular maintenance and servicing of all vehicles – but especially goods vehicles.

“We regularly work with the HSE, Highways Agency and DVSA on joint operations along our road network to pull over and check vehicles for roadworthiness for the very reasons that have sadly played out in this incident. I’m confident that our recently formed Commercial Vehicle Unit will further strengthen this area of enforcement and education.

“I hope this serves as a reminder and message to all haulage companies that the maintenance and servicing of their vehicles is paramount and no matter where people try to make economies, they must never fail to uphold the high vehicle standards that this country demands and our communities rightly expect.” Sgt Mazingham praised the families of Nigel and John-Paul during following their losses and throughout the investigation and trial.

He said: “I want like to thank the families of John and Nigel for their patience while this case has been investigated. They have endured untold pain since the loss of their loved ones, something no family should have to suffer. I would also like to pass on my thanks to the other agencies involved in the investigation.

“I hope that the conviction of these men provides John-Paul’s and Nigel’s families some form of closure at a very difficult time in their lives.”