Ipswich: Lorry had tipped previously, court hears as man found guilty of manslaughter in docks death trial

Neville Wightman

Neville Wightman - Credit: Contributed

A HAULIER whose lorry loader tipped over and crushed a man to death at Ipswich Docks after he forgot to use vital equipment to stabilise the vehicle has been found guilty of manslaughter.

Paul Napier

Paul Napier - Credit: Contributed

Paul Napier, who was rushing after being delayed in traffic, was accused of being grossly negligent by not taking the “essential and elementary” step of extending stabilisers before using a crane to unload pontoons.

Napier, 48, of Inglenook, Clacton-on-Sea denied the manslaughter of Red & Marine employee Neville Wightman, 52, of Penzance Road, Kesgrave on December 16 2011 but was found guilty by a jury at Ipswich Crown Court.

He admitted failing to ensure the health and safety of Mr Wightman and his colleague Steven Burden, who was seriously injured in the incident. Sentence was adjourned until May 17.

After the jury’s verdict the court heard that before the start of the case the prosecution had been tipped off about an incident at Tilbury in 2009 when another vehicle belonging to Napier had tipped over. On that occasion the stabilising legs were extended and no-one was injured. Judge John Devaux expressed surprise that there was no investigation into the incident.

After the case Mr Wightman’s wife Gaye said: ”Neville was not only a loving husband but a wonderful father to Bradley, our son. He was always willing to help his family, friends and work colleagues. He retained a wealth of knowledge, which he built up from his career, and he would share this with others. What a waste of his life. We are still grieving and others are also grieving with us. It will take time to heal this huge void in our lives but his memory will always remain with us. Those responsible for Neville’s death will never know what they have done to our family, nor the pain we are feeling. However they will have to live with the consequences for the rest of their life.”

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