The trial of the first British company to be charged under the new Corporate Manslaughter Act was adjourned today because its director needs “urgent and intensive” medical attention.
Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings is the first firm to be prosecuted under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007, designed to make it easier to bring cases against companies.
The charge came after the death of geologist Alex Wright, 27, who was collecting soil samples near Stroud, Gloucestershire when a trench collapsed on him.
Mr Wright, from Cheltenham, died in September 2008, whilst involved in exploratory work on the site at Brimscombe, where houses were to be built.
Company director Peter Eaton, 60, of Stroud, also faces a charge of gross negligence manslaughter.
The trial was due to begin at Bristol Crown Court today but after both sides agreed that Eaton was unwell, the judge put the case back.
Mr Justice Field told the jury: “What has happened in this case is that I have acceded to the application of the defence to adjourn this trial for a longish period because the defendant Mr Eaton requires urgent and intensive medical treatment.
“It would be unfair to require him to participate in this trial at the same time as undergoing this treatment.”
That decision was accepted by all parties, he added.
Eaton could be jailed for life if convicted.
Both he and his company also face one charge each of Failure to discharge a duty, under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. All charges relate to September 5 2008.
The maximum sentence for his firm is an unlimited fine.
The case was adjourned to Winchester Crown Court on a date to be fixed in July.