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Cotswold Geotechnical loses manslaughter appeal

A geotechnical contractor appealing against its conviction for corporate manslaughter has lost its legal challenge.

A £385,000 fine was also upheld by Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge at the Court of Appeal on Wednesday.

He said that it was “unavoidable and inevitable” that in order to pay the fine the Gloucestershire firm would probably have to go into liquidation.

Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings was found guilty at Winchester Crown Court in February of the charge relating to the death of Alexander Wright from Cheltenham.

Imperial College graduate Wright, 27, was alone in a 3.8m deep unsupported trial pit when it caved in at a development site in Brimscombe Lane, near Stroud, Gloucestershire, in September 2008.

No-one was in the dock for the three week trial but the business denied corporate manslaughter.

The prosecution was the first under the new Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.

The company director Peter Eaton, 61, was unable to stand trial on a manslaughter charge but the jury was told to assess his conduct in reaching a verdict.

The original trial judge said that Peter Eaton was in substance the company and his approach to trial pitting was “extremely irresponsible and dangerous”.

The penalty under the new legislation is an unlimited fine.

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