First corporate manslaughter case

Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings has become the first company to be convicted of the new offence of corporate manslaughter. A fine of £385,000 was ordered after 27-year-old geologist Alex Wright died on 5 September 2008. He had been investigating soil conditions in a deep trench on a development plot in Stroud when it collapsed and killed him.

The case was relatively easy to prosecute as the company had a sole director who was on site at the time of the incident. The fine is below sentencing guidelines that indicate a starting point of £500,000, but the Judge took into account the company’s parlous financial state and agreed that they could pay the money over 10 years at a rate of £38,500 per annum. To have required immediate payment would have resulted in the company going out of business and the four staff would lose their jobs.

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