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Pye Motors fined £120,000 after technician was dragged under a van

Morecombe-based franchised dealer Pye Motors has been fined £120,000 for health and safety breaches after an incident where a technician was dragged under a van, suffering multiple injuries.

Stuart Currey was left with fractures to his ribs, shoulder, spine and hips by the incident and he has had to learn to walk again.

He'd been cleaning a five-foot deep inspection pit at the Ford commercial vehicle dealership in November 2014 when he saw a Transit van driving towards it. Currey began to climb out of the pit but the van drove over, dragging him underneath it.

Family-owned Pye Motors pleaded guilty to safety breaches at Preston Crown Court.

The health and safety executive investigation found it was common for vehicles to drive over the inspection pit while staff were within it, and those employees would simply duck down.

Passing sentence, Judge Robert Altham said: "Mr Currey describes in a statement he was struggling to breathe and feared there and then he would die.

"Despite there being a clear risk of working in and around pits, there was no risk assessment addressing that risk whatsoever. Another employee indicated it became customary to drive over the pits when people were in them. The procedure was people would simply duck down as vehicles drove over.

"The defendant company has now implemented procedures to address the risks posed. This was a life-altering incident for Mr Currey and his immediate family."

Defending the £34m turnover dealer, Keith Morton QC said officials at the company were "mortified" about the accident.

Although the guidance for the fine, set against turnover, would have fixed it at around £1.5 million, Morton successfully demonstrated that as the business was a franchise, its business model was such that this level of turnover does not translate into similar levels of profit.

Companies House records show the group made pre-tax profits of £567,013 in 2015.

The court held that a fine of £120,000 was appropriate, paid over three years.

Currey is now pursuing a civil action against his former employer for compensation to help with his rehabilitation.

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