OWNER OF LORRY WHICH KILLED JAMES BERRY FINED £4,000

james berry

THE lorry which shed a wheel that killed schoolboy cycling star James Berry was found to have 28 additional defects and was unfit to be on the road, the High Bailiff?s Court in the Isle of Man heard recently.

Yet because of delays in enacting transport legislation in the Manx Government, the Tynwald, truck companies can still operate unregulated two and half years after the fatality.

This has angered Ken Berry, the father of James, who accuses the lorry company of being a ?gang of cowboys.? He asks why, two and half years since the tragic killing of his son on December 29, 2005, the new Transport Act has still not been made law.

It was also revealed that police discovered that the owners of the tipper truck, operated by Island Drainage and Groundwork Ltd, kept no specified maintenance records for the vehicle.

The company were fined £4000 after admitting two offences of keeping a vehicle in a dangerous condition. Earlier this year, two mechanics that carried out repairs to the vehicle two days before the incident were cleared of James Berry?s manslaughter.

Mr John Melvin, Vehicle Examiner for the Department for Transport, who examined the vehicle on the same day as the tragedy and found 28 further defects, said that had the vehicle ?been subjected to a roadside check it would have been issued with an immediate prohibition on any one of (such) defects??

The wheel came off the truck and rolled across the road striking James on the head as he was returning from a training ride with a group of riders including Mark Cavendish. James, who was 13, died from his injuries the following day.

His father Ken Berry told Cycling Weekly that if the Transport Act had been in place? ?they wouldn?t have been driving that truck. They wouldn?t have been granted an operators licence. An operators licence system would have picked that up.

?Whatever we do it won?t bring James? back. The whole point of trying to change things is so it never happens again, but trying to get anything done is frustrating beyond words. ?I?ve had lots of positive words from government, but no action.?

He said the owner of the vehicle ought to have known about those defects and done something about them. ?The vehicle examiner said that if they had done roadside checks on the vehicle it would have been immediately impounded.?

?Whatever the outcome, whatever changes are made, it doesn?t bring James back. But it is bad that after all this time, unregulated lorries can still go out on the road. That?s of great concern to me.?

What is also of concern to him is that the truck had been regularly hauling loads to and from the site of the New Hospice, which has prompted Mr Berry to ask how is it possible to award a haulage contract without first subjecting the company to safety audit??

Mr Berry says he is not suggesting that this piece of legislation would have prevented James? death.

He says that up to 2000 wheels a year come off wagons in the UK and up to 10 people a year are killed as a result of these wheel losses. But we don?t hear about it. ?But in James? case, being a vulnerable cyclist and given the prospective future that he had in front of him ? and because of the guys he was out with ? that makes it a higher profile. ?What this act will do, I believe, is put another obstacle in the way of cowboy operators.?

Mr Berry says that the police told him at the time of incident that the company had no maintenance records, no manuals, and no records. Mr Berry says the company didn?t even have a torque wrench to tighten the wheel nuts up.

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Keith Bingham joined the Cycling Weekly team in the summer of 1971, and retired in 2011. During his time, he covered numerous Tours de France, Milk Races and everything in-between. He was well known for his long-running 'Bikewatch' column, and played a pivotal role in fighting for the future of once at-threat cycling venues such as Hog Hill and Herne Hill Velodrome.