THE owner of a Headley company, which was responsible for the death of one its employees, is facing further scrutiny of his financial affairs after he attempted to get his original fine reduced.
The intervention of Malcolm Hinton’s widow means that Mervyn Owens, of Gordon Place, Reading, could now face an increased, rather than reduced, fine depending on the outcome of the renewed inquiry into his assets.
As previously reported in The Gazette, Owens was ordered to pay £183,000 by Judge Guy Boney after Winchester Crown Court heard of a litany of failures in the way his business, Mobile Sweepers (Reading) Ltd, was run.
The court heard 56-year-old Mr Hinton, from Calcot, near Reading, was crushed to death by a road sweeper he was trying to repair while working at the firm, based in Riddings Farm, Headley, on March 6, 2012.
Owens pleaded guilty to failing to discharge a health and safety duty, and the company itself pleaded guilty to corporate manslaughter.
The fine of £183,000 was calculated around what Owens could afford to pay, based on the value of the three properties he said he owned, including two rental properties in Reading.
At a hearing in Winchester, Judge Boney said he had been sent a note by a solicitor representing Owens, saying that both rental properties were jointly owned by Owens and his wife Mary, and appealing for the fine to be recalculated to take that into account.
But Judge Boney added: “Soon after, I received that note, I received another letter from the wife of Mr Hinton. The letter stated that in addition to his marital home and the two rental properties in Reading, Owens also owns a farm and house in Ireland.”
Defending Owens, Andrew McGee, said that Owens owns a small house, worth around £34,000 in Ireland, which he had not declared because he believed he only had to declare properties in the UK.
Prosecuting, Esther Schutzer-Weissmann said she had concerns that “his word should be taken at face value”, adding he “had not been frank in his declaration of assets”.
Judge Boney ordered that Owens discloses full details of all his properties and assets. A further hearing will then take place after these investigations have been carried out to determine whether he will pay an increased fine.
At the original sentencing hearing, Owens – who was disqualified from being a company director for five years – was ordered to pay costs of £8,000. His company, which the court heard has assets of £11,300, was told to pay an £8,000 fine and costs of £4,000.