Northern Ireland

Council fined £75,000 after admitting responsibility over death of binman

The Antrim Crown Court judge said the fine “must never be interpreted as the court putting a value on John Winton’s life”.

John Winton died in November 2018
John Winton died in November 2018

Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council has been fined £75,000 after admitting responsibility over the death of a binman.

Imposing the fine at Antrim Crown Court on Friday, Judge Roseanne McCormick KC said to was clear to her that “death or serious injury was foreseeable” given the health and safety risk assessments but that in failing to provide adequate training or supervision, the council’s standards “fell far below” that which would have been expected.

The Antrim Crown Court judge said the fine “must never be interpreted as the court putting a value on John Winton’s life”.

The council, with its head office at Cloonavin on the Portstewart Road in Coleraine, had earlier entered a guilty plea that on November 6 2018 “being an employer, failed to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all your employees.”

Father-of-two Mr Winton (51) died after he was struck by the bin lorry he was working on at Mount Eden in Limavady.

There had been a risk assessment, the court heard, that the men collecting the bins should act as banksmen, or reversing assistants, and should not be collecting bins when the lorry was reversing.

Mr Winton was struck by the “enormous” bin lorry when he was walking behind it and had entered the driver’s blindspot so with no one acting as a banksman, the driver has struck him at just 6mph.

Judge McCormick said: “This accident happened as a result of agency staff being under trained, being under supervised and a lack of provision of banksmen.”

Paying tribute to the “quiet dignity” of Mr Winton’s family who had attended each and every court hearing, Judge McCormick said it was clear from their emotional victim impact statements the victim was a “generous and lively character,” beloved and missed by all of his family and friends.

Indeed his mother lamented the fact that having served in the army in many troubled areas, it as a sad fact that he only son was killed in the area where he lived and just yards away from her home.

Speaking after the hearing, Health and Safety Executive NI principal inspector Anne Boylan said: “This tragic accident could have been avoided had the Council managed the risks associated with domestic bin collections.

“Tragically for the Winton family, the council failed to implement the necessary control measures.”

Meanwhile, senior Public Prosecution Service prosecutor Michael McDaid said: “The outcome of this case must serve as a stark warning to employers to implement comprehensive health and safety measures to prevent individuals from being endangered and avoid any further tragic loss of life.

“Mr Winton was a much-loved father who is sorely missed by his family and all those who knew him. This case demonstrates the devastating consequences that arise when the correct protocols are not in place.”