Published: 15:29, 02 March 2022
| Updated: 12:05, 03 March 2022
Used vehicle company British Car Auctions (BCA) has been fined more than £1 million following life-changing injuries caused to a 76-year-old in Paddock Wood.
Geoffrey Husher was injured by an automatic Porsche on a ramp at the premises near Eldon Way in October 2018.
He was airlifted to a London hospital where doctors initially feared that part of his leg may need to be removed.
Prosecutor David Travers QC told Maidstone Crown Court that Mr Husher, who loved dog walking, needed a wheelchair to get around and died on August 22, 2019, from "reasons unrelated to the accident".
He said the accident happened on a ramp when the driver, Roderick Duncan, stood on the brake and throttle at the same time and the vehicle lurched forward.
The 54-year-old driver was never charged as the incident happened on private land.
But Ben Compton, QC for BCA, claimed that had the incident happened on a public road he would have faced a serious charge.
The incident was caught on CCTV footage showing one man being struck as the Porsche lurched forward but he avoided serious harm by rolling over the bonnet.
But Mr Husher, a buyer from Swanley, was pinned by his legs against a barrier by the vehicle as others looked on in horror.
BCA has admitted breaching the Health and Safety laws following the accident in Paddock Wood which left the victim in pain and facing the possibility of losing one of his legs.
Judge Philip St John-Stevens said the company had taken a risk assessment about the site where cars were auctioned.
Cars were driven around the site where customers lined up to view the vehicles but "absolutely no effort was made to restrict customers from being on the ramp", the judge ruled.
Now the company – which has a turnover of more than £310m – has admitted failing to discharge a duty under Health and Safety at Work laws 1974 to protect people on their auction site.
The judge said it was not known why the car was out of control but it's believed the driver had placed his feet on both pedals at the same time.
After the incident, the company instituted new safety measures, the court heard.
The judge fined the company – which has been operating on the Paddock Wood site since 1984 – £1.1m and ordered it to pay £97,000 prosecution costs.
The fine and costs had to be made within two months.
The judge told them that he accepted the company's bosses were genuinely remorseful.
An investigation was also carried out by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, led by senior environment health officer Justene Lawal, who identified the company had recognised potential hazards associated with pedestrians and vehicles and identified some controls but had failed to adequately implement those controls.
Cabinet member Councillor Jane March said: ‘This was a very sad incident and my thoughts are with Mr Husher’s family as I am sure that knowing this court case was taking place will have been difficult for them.
‘The Council has a responsibility to enforce health and safety in certain types of premises which it has done on this occasion. It does not do so lightly but with the protection of employees and members of the public in mind.’