Operator found guilty of manslaughter again

Adelaide transport operator's gross negligence over driver’s death reaffirmed on appeal

Operator found guilty of manslaughter again
The sentence is the same as that handed down after the first trial last year.


The owner of a South Australian transport company Colbert Transport has been found guilty of manslaughter for the second time over a driver’s death.

According to media reports, a jury took under an hour to unanimously find Peter Colbert guilty of gross negligence over the death of driver Robert Brimson in 2014.

The 45-year-old driver lost his life when his truck veered off the road and crashed into a pole in Happy Valley, a suburb in Adelaide south.

Colbert was found guilty of endangering Brimson, who had warned Colbert about the faulty brakes in the truck two days before the fatal crash, the ABC reports.

It says Colbert denied having prior knowledge of the braking issue during the trial despite witnesses telling the court he was repeatedly warned about the problem.

Colbert was also found guilty of endangering the life of another driver, who is said to have had a near miss owing to faulty brakes.

Colbert, who was sentenced to 12 years in prison last year in the same case, had won an appeal against the conviction in February this year.

The appeals court had found that the trial court judge’s summing of the case was unbalanced and the jurors needed further directions in the case.

The judges ruled that some of the comments in the summation were highly damaging to the defence case.

Colbert will remain in custody until his next court appearance later this month.

The case highlights that vehicle maintenance is legally part of operator liabilities, despite maintenance being outside of the existing chain of responsibility (CoR) rules under the National Heavy Vehicle Law (NHVL).

Holding Redlich partner and transport lawyer Danella Wilmshurst had earlier warned that "it is not an adequate response for a director of a company to delegate full responsibility for vehicle safety to a mechanic or others with a responsibility for vehicle maintenance".

The case also highlights the relevance of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR’s) ongoing roadworthiness survey that includes inspection of up to 9,000 heavy vehicles – a move aimed at understanding the health status of Australia's existing fleet.

The results of the National Roadworthiness Baseline Survey (NRBS) will help the regulator devise safety and compliance strategies for the future.



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