Charge over CentrePort death questioned

Last updated 14:19 16/06/2014

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The charge against port company CentrePort over the death of one of its workers was fatally flawed and could not be corrected, a judge in Wellington District Court has been told.

Mark Victor Samoa, 47, died on January 20 last year when he was crushed between two huge bales of paper pulp.

A forklift driver did not know Samoa was between the bales and pushed them together to straighten a crooked line of bales that was "bugging" him.

CentrePort says the forklift driver - who was not charged with any offence - was at fault for breaking several rules and procedures.

But the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment charged CentrePort with failing to take all practicable steps to ensure Samoa's safety.

CentrePort pleaded not guilty at a hearing that is expected to end today after more than two weeks of evidence. Its lawyer, Kristy McDonald, QC, told Judge Bill Hastings that the seven practicable steps the ministry alleges CentrePort failed to take were not part of the charge and should have been.

She said the fault cannot be fixed.

But the ministry's lawyer, Shona Carr, said it was not necessary for the particular steps to be part of the charge and CentrePort had been properly informed of the steps it allegedly failed to take. The steps were contained in a summary that the company received along with a copy of the charge when it was filed in court in July last year.

The hearing is continuing.

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- The Dominion Post

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