Haulage boss guilty of manslaughter after lorry with faulty brakes caused deadly crash

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John-Paul Cassidy (L) and Nigel Eley were killed in the crash. (SWNS)
John-Paul Cassidy (L) and Nigel Eley were killed in the crash. (SWNS)

A haulage company boss who ignored warnings his lorry's brakes were faulty has been found guilty of manslaughter following a horror crash that killed two friends.

Michael Holgate, 39, could have avoided the tragic deaths of Nigel Eley, 41, and John-Paul Cassidy, 37, if he had “done his job”, prosecutors said.

A 30-tonne articulated truck carrying a large static caravan owned by Holgate smashed through the central reservation of the M62 near Goole, East Yorkshire, in April 2018.

Hull Crown Court heard how the vehicle's brakes 'were not working' before it careered into the opposite carriageway and collided with Mr Eley and Mr Cassidy's black Lexus.

Mr Eley died at the scene, while Mr Cassidy died of his injuries in hospital ten days later.

A general view of Hull Crown Court, Hull.   (Photo by Anna Gowthorpe/PA Images via Getty Images)
Michael Holgate was found guilty of several offences at Hull Crown Court. (Getty)

The court was told that driver Jack Beeston, who was 22 at the time of the crash, told Holgate on “numerous occasions” that there was an issue with the ABS warning light.

But Holgate failed to ensure that the issue was identified and rectified.

Humberside Police said they found "mechanical faults" with the vehicle which “clearly showed Holgate’s disregard for his responsibilities”.

The court was told how an investigation into Holgate's company revealed a “shocking picture of a company culture with complete disregard of safety”.

Holgate, of Brough, East Yorkshire, was found guilty of two counts of manslaughter through gross negligence, two counts of causing death whilst uninsured following a two-week trial.

He had previously entered a guilty plea to one offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act. He is due to be sentenced next week.

Beeston, now 24, of Driffield, East Yorkshire, is also due to be sentenced next week.

The police investigation also revealed that although the vehicle involved was insured, the policy stated that all drivers must be over the age of 25 years.

It was heard in court 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 that 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.

Speaking of her devastating loss, Mr Eley’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.

The family of John-Paul Cassidy added: “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.

“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.”