September 18, 2023 | Susan Napier-Sewell

Consequences: Opting into Fraud, Greed, Negligence


Consequences: A UK transport boss was ordered jailed for 15 years and a driver sentenced to six years after two men died when their car was hit by a 30-ton HGV (Heavy Goods Vehicle) with faulty brakes.

What happened in the following account of a tragic UK accident not only involves consequences of jail time but also reveals the deceit, danger, and lack of regard for human life in a company’s business practices.

Michael Holgate was the head of an East Yorkshire trucking firm, RM Group, when one of his trucks was involved in a crash on April 3, 2018, on the M62, the longest motorway in the United Kingdom.

The driver of the HGV belonging to Holgate was Jack Beston, 22. Beston lost control of the lorry (truck) and crashed through the central barrier of a motorway, hitting another vehicle.

The lorry was heading west along the motorway when it careened through the central median. It crossed over onto the opposite carriageway and collided with the black Lexus in which Nigel and John-Paul were traveling. The lorry hit the vehicle of Nigel Eley, 41, and John-Paul Cassidy, 37, who were traveling eastbound along the M62 near Goole. Nigel died at the scene, and John-Paul died later of his injuries in the hospital.

Consequences: Michael Holgate was convicted of gross negligence. Beston, the HGV’s driver, pleaded guilty of causing death by dangerous driving

Beston had already pled guilty to two counts of death by dangerous driving when he appeared at Hull Crown Court the year before.

Holgate, 39, was accused of saving money by “cutting corners” on vehicle repairs and maintenance. Judge Justice Fraser observed that a replacement valve would have only cost £200, noting that the accident was a “disaster waiting to happen.”

The court heard that both Beston and the company knew the caravan transporter he was driving had faulty brakes


“The court heard that Beston had completed safety checks in the weeks prior to the accident where he logged a fault with the brakes on eight occasions, including on the morning of the fatal crash.

“Police also discovered that Beston was not insured as the haulage firm’s policy excluded drivers under the age of 25.

“Michael Holgate owned the haulage company which was responsible for maintaining this and other vehicles in his fleet,” Sergeant Rob Mazingham of Humberside Police Serious Collision Unit said.

“He was responsible for making sure his vehicles were roadworthy. Long-standing mechanical faults existed with this and other vehicles which clearly showed Holgate’s disregard for his responsibilities.

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

“I hope that the sentencing of these two men provides John-Paul’s and Nigel’s families some form of closure at this very difficult time, and also serves as a warning to other drivers and operators who may be tempted to risk lives by not adhering to rules and regulations imposed for the safety of all.

“He was responsible for making sure his vehicles were roadworthy. Long-standing mechanical faults existed with this and other vehicles which clearly showed Holgate’s disregard for his responsibilities.”

Despite being advised to send the vehicle to a specialist for repairs, Holgate instructed Beston to continue driving the HGV, which would travel more than 3,000 miles from March 19 to the day of the accident.

“During Holgate’s trial, the court heard evidence from other employees who said they would be threatened with the sack if they did not do as Holgate instructed.

“On that fatal morning, Beston was to embark on a 580-mile journey transporting mobile homes to the south coast and encountered four separate incidents with the faulty brakes before reaching the M62.”

“You had serious problems with the brakes, twice when they became stuck and would not release and twice when you almost drove into your escorting vehicles,” said Justice Fraser.

Sources: Quoted material from The World News, “Haulage company owner and lorry driver jailed over fatal M62 crash” and “Haulage Boss and Lorry Driver Jailed Over Faulty Brake Deaths” from IOSH Magazine, Friday, July 9, 2021.

Feature image from the Belfast Telegraph, Driver Dies in Collision Which Shuts M62 for Hours, April 4, 2018.

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