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First corporate manslaughter charge to begin today

The first prosecution to be brought under the Corporate Manslaughter Act 2007 will begin today at the High Court in Bristol.

Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings Ltd has been charged with unlawfully killing a young geologist by gross negligence under the Act.

Alexander Wright, 27, was gathering soil samples in a trench which collapsed and killed him in Stroud, Gloucestershire, in September 2008.

The company’s sole director, Peter Eaton, also faces a charge under common law of killing by gross negligence.

Eaton’s company is the first to be brought to court under the new legislation, which aims to make the prosecution of companies and their bosses in relation to deaths at work simpler.

Eaton, 60, of The Common, Brimpsfield, Stroud, Gloucestershire, and his company will stand trial at Bristol Crown Court.

Eaton and his company also face one health and safety charge each, in relation to the same incident.

Eaton was previously granted unconditional bail.

Mr Wright died while taking soil samples in the pit at a property in Brimscombe, which was granted outline planning permission for two houses to be built.

The geology graduate, from Cheltenham, was declared dead at the scene. Rescue workers took over two days to recover his body from several tonnes of mud.

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