An Welsh haulage company, which pleaded guilty to falsifying vehicle maintenance records has been ordered to pay £500,000 in Swansea Crown Court. Mansel Davies and Son Ltd, based in Pembrokeshire, admitted 19 counts of fraud between October 2017 and February 2018, at a hearing last year. The firm was fined £20,000 for each count and told to pay £120,000 costs.
“A deliberate and repeated case of dishonesty which has put lives at risk” and “put profit before safety”.
A 28 year-old employee of the company, Jonathan Wyn Phillips, pleaded guilty to the same offences last month. He has been given a nine-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, plus he was ordered to pay £1,500 costs for forging the records.
The sentencing follows an investigation by the UK’s Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), during which it found the company was forging HGV maintenance records to show that regular full vehicle examinations were being performed to meet the requirements of its O licence.
During the investigation, a handwriting expert identified that one person within the company was writing the false records.
A DVSA’s spokeswoman said: “This large company forged safety documents to deliberately avoid regular maintenance checks on their vehicles – this put the public and their employees at risk.
“We always pursue operators and push for the toughest penalties where there’s evidence they are cutting corners at the expense of road safety.”
Judge Geraint Walters said the false documents were “all dishonest and created in a deliberate attempt to deceive”.
“There can be no doubting that the offending was deliberate and repeated over time and showing flagrant disregard to the importance of record keeping in regard to vehicle safety,” he said.
On Monday, the judge accepted Phillips acted under the direction of senior people in the company, which employs about 300 people.
Jonathan Rees QC, prosecuting, described Mansel Davies Ltd, based in Llanfyrnach, as an experienced haulage firm with a £25m turnover in 2019. Mr Rees said this was “a deliberate and repeated case of dishonesty which has put lives at risk” and “put profit before safety”.
One lorry’s tachograph proved it was being driven when forged documents suggested it was in the garage being inspected. Another lorry was stopped by the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) and its inspector found its suspension was defective and likely to become detached.
It was later discovered the company and Jonathan Wyn Phillips (who was described in court as a junior assistant in the garage) had produced falsified periodic maintenance inspection (PMI) sheets.
The court heard the 19 false safety sheets were connected to 13 different vehicles.
Nigel Beeson, defending Phillips, said he had been the most junior assistant in the garage and “this had been a massive learning curve for him”.
Additional charges against the firm’s managing director Stephen Mansel Davies were dropped last year.