Message from Humberside Police:
Today at Hull Crown Court Michael Holgate, of Munstead Way, Brough, was found guilty of two counts of manslaughter through gross negligence, two counts of causing death whilst uninsured. He had previously entered a guilty plea to one offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act.
He was found guilty of for his crimes following a two week trial which began on Wednesday 9 June 2021. He is due to be sentenced next week.
The driver, Jack Beston from Driffield, who was 22 at the time of the collision, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving when he appeared at previous hearing at Hull Crown Court in October 2020. He is also due to be sentenced next week.
On 3 April 2018, two men, Nigel Eley (41) and John-Paul Cassidy (37) were travelling eastbound along the M62, not knowing it would be the last journey they would make.
A 30 tonne articulated truck carrying a large static caravan was heading west along the M62, driven by Jack Beston. Only 35 miles into a 580 miles journey to West Sussex, as it travelled over the Ouse Bridge, Beston lost control of the vehicle and it careered through the central reservation, crossing over onto the opposite carriageway colliding with the black Lexus that Nigel and John-Paul were travelling in.
Nigel sadly died at the scene and John-Paul later died of his injuries in hospital.
Speaking of her devestating loss Nigel 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 9 and 4 years old.
“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 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. 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.
Speaking after the sentencing of Holgate and Beston, Sergeant Rob Mazingham of Humberside Police Serious Collision Unit 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.
“For his part Michael Holgate owned the haulage company which was responsible for maintaining this any other vehicles in his fleet.
“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.
“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.
It was heard in court that Michael Holgate had only recently served a 3 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, CPS 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.”
Sergeant Mazingham continued, “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.”
Closing, Sergeant Mazingham 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.”