22/12/2016 Points West


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The carnage was caused by terrible maintenance from the haulage company


who cut corners to save money, leaving relatives to grieve.


I think a spark has definitely gone out in my heart, even though he's


The driver was only a teenager at the time.


We have an exclusive interview, as the jury decides


The hardest bit is when you go to sleep, just seeing the carnage


unfolding in your head, when it happened.


It's like you press replay in your head every night you


go to close your eyes and you just see it.


How many other cowboy companies are out there who don't


Two years on, I'm back in Weston to find out how the community


is coping with the tragedy as it approaches another Christmas.


It's Christmas, but I'm afraid there's little festive cheer tonight


after a jury came back with a devastating verdict


on the tipper-truck crash in Bath which claimed four lives,


Haulage boss Matthew Gordon and mechanic Peter Wood,


both from Wiltshire, were convicted of manslaughter


after a trial exposed the shocking state of the lorry.


The young driver, Philip Potter, broke down in tears


Afterwards, the police made this statement.


The fact of the matter is that both men failed in their duty


Matthew Gordon had no transport manager and effectively flouted


every regulation laid down to ensure safety.


Peter Wood signed off vehicles as safe when,


Many of the faults at the time of this crash were long-standing.


Both were aware of previous problems with the brakes on this vehicle


and did not take action when they had a duty to.


They picked up the last load of the day from a quarry. They drove in


convoy along the M4, past bat with racecourse before heading down the


notoriously steep Lansdown Lane. This is a fully laden 32 tonne


Scania tipper truck. At the width restriction, one truck stop, but


Phillip Archer could not stop, the Brits had failed. The X brother died


the hill he swerved to avoid the bus and hit and killed for you two and


injured her granny, Margaret Rogers. Seconds later he struck a car. The


three men inside died instantly and they were Stephen Von, a chauffeur,


and two businessmen, Robert Parker and Philip Allen. The runaway tipper


truck came to a stop on its side. In less than ten minutes, the lives of


poor families had been shattered. the two businessmen from Bath


and take them back to Wales. He had been married


for just six months. His widow, Sian, has been


describing her husband Everybody he came into contact


with instantly took a shine to him. Very much a cheeky chappie,


but I think that went in his favour Just a very, very


likeable gentleman. How long had the two


of you been together? We had been together


just over four years. We were married in 2014,


on 27th August, out in Turkey, which was one of our holiday


destinations that we We fell in love with it,


and fell in love with each You said that you had said goodbye,


kissed him goodbye. Then what happened for


you and for him that day. We both went out our


separate ways with work. I contacted Steve at about 12:30pm,


like we did every day, just to see how each other's


days were going. He said he would be home


at the same time as me, roughly at about five o'clock


in the evening. He had a call coming in so I had


to rush off the phone. I said I loved him and he obviously


was rushing to get off the phone and he didn't get to say it back,


and that was the last It was just horrendous,


to be told that your husband has been hit by a 32-tonne tipper-truck


and dragged down the road in the car, and all the emotions,


really, that went with that. And being asked if I could


identify him the next day. You say all the emotions,


can you describe for me what emotions you felt,


and what this journey has been like for you over the last nearly


two years since that moment Just completely lost, really,


like as if you have had your right arm or your left arm chopped off,


and there's that piece just missing. I think a spark has definitely


gone out in my heart, It has just been a horrendous time,


I wouldn't wish it on anybody. You have sat through


so much of the court case. What have been the hardest things


to hear in terms of the evidence Mainly that things could have been


avoided and, potentially, I would have had Steve with the now


by my side. I would never have had to go


through all of this. And, hopefully, if that was


the case, we would have had a family by now which we've been denied,


whereas the owner of the company has gone on to have a child and has one


on the way, as well. I feel very upset over that,


that he's gone on to have a life The only person to walk free


from court today was the young man behind the wheel


of the tipper truck. The jury decided Philip Potter was


the victim of an unscrupulous boss. These are the pictures,


shown in court, of the rusty His defence argued it was


"an accident destined to occur". Philip Potter has been speaking


exclusively to our Social Affairs The hardest bit is when you go


to sleep is just seeing the carnage unfolding in your head


when it happened. It is like you press replay


in your head every night you go to close your eyes


and you just see it. Just thinking of the four


people all the time. Thinking how horrible it must


be for the families, just how hard it would be to lose


someone you love so much. Walking free from court today,


the driver of the tipper-truck, Philip Potter, broke down in tears


after being cleared It was just under two years ago


that his life was to change forever. The 19-year-old worked


on his family's farm. To earn extra money,


he had taken an apprenticeship with this distant cousin, Matthew


Gordon at Grittenham Haulage. He was only days into the job


when he climbed into the truck Because it was not under any great


braking pressures because I wasn't going down any hills,


there wasn't really much at all. Obviously, the hill that I went down


was very, very steep. I had never been down


it before in my life. The court was told and amber warning


light had come on on his dashboard, indicating a potential problem


with the brakes. Phillip said he reported this


to his boss and was told, I was going round the


first couple of bends. I didn't know the road at all,


so I was not rushing at all. Going down the hill I see him come


to a halt at a traffic calming. At that point it was coming


into a 20, I was doing about 25. I could see that we were coming


into a 20 so I applied the brakes a little bit more


and there was just nothing. It was holding, but it


wouldn't slow down any more. I slammed it into a lower gear


and tried to handbrake and just held my hand on the horn and just


dropped my arms solid because I didn't know what else


I could possibly try and do. I just wanted to warn people


that there was a lorry By the time he managed to stop


the truck, four people were dead. Philip Potter was taken to hospital,


where his mother confirmed to him You remember when they told you that


Philip had been driving The police had said that he's


in such a state that we can't really get anything out of him


at the moment, He was in a hell of a state


and they told me then the talent he is before I went


in to see him and he said, Mum, He just needed someone to confirm


that it was what he thought it was. I can remember just hugging him


and saying, Philip, if you couldn't We believed him straightaway


because we knew he has been driving vehicles for so long that if he had


no brakes, he had no brakes. He said, I was trying to warn people


to get out of the way. He said I was like that,


get out of the way, because I was trying to get


it to stop. I was trying to stop it


and I couldn't stop it. Do you think about


those people who died? We had trees planted


on the anniversary We have the vicar in to bless


them because we thought Because Philip is never


going to forget that. The family is never going to forget


it, so it was the right thing. Four young trees to mark


the four lives lost. This one is for Mitzi because once


it's blooming it comes out pink. It is always going to be


here for the rest of my life. It might just be me that


will know about them, but in my heart I know


what they are there for. A quiet minute, come up, think about


what happened that day, really. Yeah, in a way because if I hadn't


have been in the lorry then it wouldn't have been me,


but it could have happened to any driver that was in it


because of this state of the lorry. So, yeah, if it wasn't me it


would have been someone else, so it was going to happen at some


point, which is the worst Philip Potter says he will never


forget those terrible He knows that he can't rewind


the clock, but after today's verdict, clearing him from any


crime, 30-year-old Matthew Gordon


was Philip Potter's boss. Tonight, we can reveal more shocking


news about his firm, After the crash, Gordon,


admitted eight offences of exceeding driving hours in the three months


before the accident. His company pleaded guilty


to 33 similar offences. Last September, the Traffic


Commissioner disqualified him and took away his operating licence


for two years. Scott Ellis has been finding out


more about the lorry boss and the mechanic who're tonight


awaiting sentence in prison. Phillip Potter may have been


at the wheel of the runaway lorry, but the blood is on the hands


of Matthew Gordon. He is, above all others,


to blame for the crash. And he knew it the moment


tragedy struck deciding, amid the loss of life,


not to call the emergency services or admit to a police officer


he owned the overturned truck and telling the injured driver


not to mention a brake warning light was on,


before disappearing Grittenham Haulage was based here


at White s Farm near Brinkworth. It was Matthew Gordon's first


business and it's been described as a "shambles from start


to finish", and that he didn't have "a grip on how to maintain


a fleet of lorries", either because he didn't know


the rules, or he didn't care. It seems he'd put


profit before safety. Scania tipper-trucks have a drum


brake on each of their eight wheels, but in Matthew Gordon's lorry,


six were not adjusted correctly. The jury were shown photos of these


bodged brake repairs. Gordon said he didn't cut corners


when it came to maintenance. The jury, and this Wiltshire HGV


instructor, think otherwise. You could almost call them cowboys.


Running trucks is expensive, it could cost ?2000 per truck per


month. Simply by not doing maintenance properly, you those


This driver's worked for Gordon for a short time but left.


I nearly made the mistake of going to work for him again, until I saw


the equipment. It checked out the lorry and the trailer and I wasn't


He also says Gordon rushed his drivers to get more


That is backed up by evidence in court -


that Gordon texted his partner complaining Potter was slow.


You can only do what you can't eat in the time period, no questions


asked. I wasn't being pushed about, I wasn't being bullied, and that's


Other drivers told us it's an industry-wide problem.


There are a lot of Billy Boyd owners. If you don't do it, somebody


If you don't do it, somebody else will do it.


The haulage industry is closely regulated.


Checks are made on operators at MoT's and at roadside inspections.


So, will the Bath crash be a wake-up call for the industry?


I hope people have learned from it. I don't know. Only time will tell


Mattthew Gordon's mechanic, Peter Wood, is also guilty


of manslaughter, having recorded no defects on the lorry's brakes


when he inspected it a few weeks before the crash.


In a statement today, Mitzi Steady s family said nothing


can bring their daughter back and they will miss her every day


They also continue, this "verdict sends a clear message that


where non-compliance results in injury or death, excuses and lies


will not stand in court and serve only to cause further upset


Joining us now from London is Duncan Buchanan from


Was this company and member of your organisation? At the time of the


incident, no they weren't. What I would like to say is my sympathy


does go to everyone who has been affected by this incident. It was a


truly shocking incident and everything in your reports indicates


just how terrible it was. But they have joined your organisation now.


What do you make of the conduct of the firm? The conduct of the firm


was completely unacceptable. They joined our organisation after the


incident in an effort to try and legitimise themselves. They had an


audit done on the compliance with operators licensing. That all the


joy that they were noncompliant in a huge range of areas. To an


unforgivable extent. It really is the shameful example of an


organisation failing to meet the most minimum of standards. The big


question is how they got away with it and high many other cowboy


operators are driving 32 tonne trucks which have not been properly


maintained. Fortunately, this is not a very common issue for this level


of noncompliance. This is probably the most serious one I have ever


seen in the industry. So, I would not actually cast the entirety of


the injury -- industry with this level of noncompliance. Do you know


that? Is the system in place that works well to flag up when there are


concerns? There are systems in place that noncompliant operators. There


is a comprehensive point-scoring system that assesses operators and


targets operators for on road enforcement and four in force within


the premises. Where were they then in this case? In this particular


case, you would probably need to discuss that with the PDSA. From the


Road haulage Association's perspective, we recognise that


enforcement is probably not at the level we would like to see. We would


like to see more on road enforcement done. We recognise the good work


that the imports when people do, but there is not enough of them. We will


have to leave it there. Thank you for coming on the programme tonight.


It's now been nearly two years since the accident in the close-knit


Our Bath reporter Ali Vowles has returned to the scene of the crash


I am at the bottom of the Lansdown Lane at the roundabout looking up at


the hill but the accident happened on that fateful afternoon in


February. The traffic then was stopped. There was an eerie silence


is all the media waiting here, myself included, desperately tried


to find out what was happening, such a contrast to the busyness of the


road tonight. I have been finding out how this community and hope that


the time and how it is healing its scars.


It was just after four in the afternoon on the ninth of debris


2015 when the brakes on Phillip Archer's truck field on the


victorious road. Four people lost their lives, two were seriously


injured. When I arrived, it was the scene of carnage, really. At the


scene. Ed Valentine, have volunteered with a Wiltshire -based


charity. Working closely with all of the ambulance, he coordinated the


medical care that was needed. Everyone was completely shocked that


the scale of the devastation. At the time you deal with that in a


professional way, we have a job to do and we do that. Afterwards, when


you reflect on what has happened, you go back to your family, I think


that is the time it gets very, very difficult, and that is the hardest


thing that we all do our best, the emergency services did the best that


night, but there are still... I think everyone involved was badly


affected and it will stay with all of us probably for the rest of our


lives. The day after the events showed the full scale of what


happened on that short but very deadly journey. So close to the


accident sets of primary school with more than 400 pupils. Thankfully, on


that day most of those pupils had already gone home, but some were in


an after-school club. That is where Mitzi and her granny were heading to


pick up her siblings. Those pupils were cared for by staff for hours as


the emergency services dealt with the aftermath of the tragedy. To


begin with, flowers for the Vic Timms work laid outside the school


walls. Although in total shock and disbelief. Little Mitzi was


well-known to everyone. The Coast community of Western was stunned and


both churches opened the next day. The place as the church at the


bottom of Lansdown Lane to receive the mounting number of flowers, a


place away from the busy road and the safer place to pay respects and


grief. People brought the flowers for weeks, wanting to make a


tribute. I was here when the people came from South Wales to bring the


floral tributes to the family for those people who had died in the


family. I don't think people could really believe it had happened here


in Western, something so dreadful. But having said that, there had been


a lot of concern about the heavy traffic using Lansdown Lane, so to


imagine that it it happens in our village was awful. Two years on and


life is moving on in Western. A memorial play area has been built at


the school in the Mitzi's name and toddlers groups, societies,


gardening clubs, are all getting on with daily life in the busy


community, but it has not been easy. It was extremely sad, but also


horrendously traumatic and I think that is why it will leave its mark


for a very long time. Everybody... The schoolchildren are very young.


It is not something you can spent a long time dwelling on comic you have


to move on. No one will ever forget what happened here, but all those


who can are now trying to look to the future.


Despite this horrendous accident, nothing seems to have been done


about the volume of traffic and the speed at which the vehicles go. It


is a 20 mile an hour zone. We understand that Mitzi's that has


been discussions with the council and tomorrow night will be -- we


will be talking to parents who are determined that things will change.


In the meantime, all thoughts go to the families who are now spending


the second Christmas without loved ones.


Now with a look at the weather and what it could be


Good evening, everybody. Let's take you through the forecast for


tomorrow which will be the arm under the influence of storm Barbara. It


is going to be the north-western parts of the British Isles that will


bear the brunt of this. Its influence down he will be felt in


terms of an increasingly windy day. It will be wet in the afternoon, as


well. Here are five things are shaping up, I week weather front


keeping things drive. In the north-west you can see storm Barbara


forming. For us, as this call from runs through June the afternoon that


will usher in a wet spell of weather. That is where we will see


the peak of the winds. For the rest of this evening, the few showers


will die out. A fairly quiet night, initially the wind is fairly light,


turning chilly under those conditions. By daybreak the breeze


is starting to pick up. The coldest days of the night, we could get a


hint of frost trying to form, maybe the odd patch of Bob. That will not


be the case by tomorrow morning with the wind is already starting to pick


up. A lot of dry weather to the first part of the day. The Black


Arrow showed that wind gusts in miles an hour. The gusts could get


up to 60 miles an hour. Difficult driving conditions. It will remain


-- remain breezy in the evening, turning colder. Let's fast forward a


cross into Christmas Eve. It is looking a genuinely Friday. It will


remain breezy yet not rather windy, and that will feel that bit chillier


as well with the change in the air mass. Up towards the north-west,


signs of another storm developing overnight and into Christmas


morning. Again, it will be the far northern parts of the British Isles


most influenced. The net result for us heading into Christmas Day will


be initially at fairly mild tablecloths applied around the


Brazilian rain, breezy or a windy. Tomorrow, we'll be back at 6.30pm


with some festive fun as it's our last long programme


before Christmas and this year. Tonight though - as we have done


every night this week - we'll leave you to enjoy another


carol. This evening it's the Rising


Voices Recovery Choir performing 'Silent Night'


in the Bristol Unitarian Church. Silent night.


Holy night. All is calm.


All is bright. Round the virgin, mother and child.


Holy infant, so tender and mild. Sleep in heavenly peace.


Sleep in the heavenly peace.


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