Truck company fined $110,000 over death of Auckland teen Jane Devonshire

Jane Devonshire, 19, died when a rubbish truck went down a bank in the Auckland suburb of Birkenhead.
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Jane Devonshire, 19, died when a rubbish truck went down a bank in the Auckland suburb of Birkenhead.

A truck leasing company has been fined more than $100,000 over a crash that killed a 19-year-old rubbish collector.

Jane Devonshire died in August 2015 when the brakes of the Sterling truck on which she was working failed.

It careened 125 metres down a road in Auckland's Birkenhead, then plummeted into a bush-clad gully, crushing her.

The truck's brakes failed and it plunged into a gully, killing Devonshire, who was standing on the cab.
STUFF

The truck's brakes failed and it plunged into a gully, killing Devonshire, who was standing on the cab.

Truck Leasing Limited (TLL), which owned the vehicle, was charged with failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the truck was maintained so it was safe for its intended use.

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The company pleaded not guilty and, during a trial at the Auckland District Court, argued inadequate work had been carried out by mechanics and the driver had acted unlawfully.

However, Judge Robert Ronayne rejected those arguments, saying the mechanics' poor maintenance was reflective of the "appalling" circumstances under which TLL made them work, including carrying out services at night in a gravel yard.

The driver was not at fault, Judge Ronayne found: "nothing [he] did could have averted the tragedy".

Judge Ronayne found the company guilty of the charge in a judgment released in September. On Friday, it was ordered to pay $110,000 to the Crown.

The company was also ordered to pay $36,000 in reparation to the Devonshire family and $11,000 to the driver for emotional harm.

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Devonshire's mother, Rona Topia, said she was "feeling OK" after hearing of the sentence.

"I'm just pleased it's over."

In 2016, Auckland Council pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to take all practical steps to ensure Onyx employees were not harmed during rubbish collections.

The council contracted Onyx – now known as Veolia – to collect rubbish bags from the steep area where the crash occurred.

Onyx and its maintenance company, N P Dobbe, also pleaded guilty to charges laid under the Health and Safety Act.

The council was fined $33,000, Onyx was fined $65,000 and N P Dobbe was fined $22,000.

The groups were also ordered to pay reparation to Devonshire's family and to the truck driver.

 - Stuff

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