Haulage boss jailed for 15 years over men’s deaths in M62 faulty lorry collision

A haulage boss who ran an “entirely lawless” business has been jailed for 15 years, after two men died when their car was hit by a lorry with defective brakes that would have cost just £200 to repair.

Tuesday, 29th June 2021, 4:16 pm
Updated Tuesday, 29th June 2021, 4:18 pm

Michael Holgate, 39, was convicted of the manslaughter through gross negligence of Nigel Eley and John-Paul Cassidy, who died after the HGV “ploughed” through the central reservation on the M62 in April 2018.

Lorry driver Jack Beston, 25, was jailed for six years at Hull Crown Court for causing the deaths of the two men by dangerous driving.

Sentencing the men on Tuesday, Mr Justice Fraser said: “What happened on April 3 2018 was not an accident, it was the entirely foreseeable and wholly avoidable consequence of the way you, Michael Holgate, operated your haulage business and the way you, Jack Beston, drove that day.”

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Nigel Eley, left, and John-Paul Cassidy.
Nigel Eley, left, and John-Paul Cassidy.

He added: “All of these offences arise out of a fatal road collision that occurred just after 9.30am on April 3 2018, when the Scania HGV driven by you, Jack Beston, went out of control on the downhill section of the Ouse Bridge on the M62 between Hull and Leeds.

“As a result, it crashed through the central reservation and ploughed into the oncoming traffic on the opposite carriageway.”

Mr Eley, 41, died instantly at the scene from “catastrophic” injuries, while Mr Cassidy, 37, died from a head injury in hospital 10 days later.

The court heard that Beston, who was 22 at the time, was, unknowingly to him, uninsured to drive the HGV, as Holgate only insured his vehicles for drivers aged 25 and over “to save money”.

The judge said: “The prosecution said that you were involved in an ‘entirely lawless operation’. That description is one that is entirely accurate.”

He added: “You, Michael Holgate, were completely in charge of all the operations in your different companies and were personally responsible for the events of April 3 2018.”

The court heard that Beston, who pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing, had used an app to report a brake fault warning light on the dashboard of the lorry on nine separate occasions over the two weeks before the crash – during which time the vehicle had travelled more than 3,000 miles.

Two attempts had been made to identify and repair the fault – which caused a four to six-second delay on the brakes on the trailer unit – and when a mechanic asked for the lorry to be sent away for repair, Holgate refused.

Mr Justice Fraser said a replacement valve for the 20-year-old trailer would have cost only £200.

He said: “Lack of affordability was not remotely an issue in you, Michael Holgate, deciding not to have the defects repaired.

“Your greed was the driving force.”

The judge added: “You had no consideration for the safety of other road users, and were interested only in your own profits.”

On the day of the collision, Beston was due to make a 580-mile round-trip from Hull to Chichester, but began experiencing problems with the brakes early in the journey and commented on the issue on a number of occasions.

The judge said the following collision was a “disaster waiting to happen”.

He said: “It was only a matter of time and coincidence as to when, where and how the brakes would ultimately either fail completely, or otherwise cause a serious collision, and so it proved.

“As a result, two people lost their lives.”

Mr Justice Fraser disqualified Holgate from being a company director for 15 years.

Beston, who was said to have shown “genuine remorse”, was banned from driving for five years following his release from jail on licence.

Victim impact statements from family members described the deaths of the two men as “avoidable”.

Mr Eley’s wife, Laurie, described her husband as her “knight in shining armour” and said the “backbone” of her perfect family had been taken away from her and their two sons.

Mrs Eley said: “Despite how amazing our boys are, I don’t think I will ever be able to get rid of the empty feeling I carry round with me every day.”

She continued: “Our lives have been turned upside down, we had so many dreams together, which have been shattered.”

Mr Eley’s father, David, said: “Nigel was in his prime but his life was taken from him needlessly, coldly and brutally by a stranger.”

Mr Cassidy’s brothers, Mark and Anthony, both said they had lost a friend.