Business owners jailed and fined $3m after worksite death
THE OWNERS of a wrecking yard where a worker was killed when a reversing forklift crushed him against a truck have been fined $3 million and sentenced to 10 months imprisonment.
Brothers Asadullah Hussaini, 25 and Mohammad Ali Jan Karimi, 23 each pleaded guilty in the Brisbane District Court to engaging in reckless conduct in relation to the death of their 58-year-old worker. They were each sentenced to 10 months imprisonment wholly suspended for 20 months.
Their business Brisbane Auto Recycling also pleaded guilty to a charge of industrial manslaughter and was fined $3 million.
It is the first prosecution of the state's new industrial manslaughter laws which carry a maximum penalty of $10 million.
The pair and their business were today sentenced in the Brisbane District Court where Judge Anthony Rafter slammed the lack of safety precautions at the worksite.
In May last year, Brisbane Auto Recycling employee Tiger Barry Willis, 58, was working near a tilt truck in the Rocklea business yard when another staff member operating a forklift reversed into him, crushing him against the truck.
Mr Willis was rushed to hospital but died eight days later from his injuries.
The court heard the brothers lied to ambulance officers, Mr Willis' family and health and safety officers, claiming Mr Willis had fallen one metre from the back of the truck to the ground.
"That was disgraceful behaviour...," Judge Rafter said, particularly in the instance of the court hearing Karimi telling Mr Willis' daughter that her father had fallen, placing the responsibility of the incident on him.
But a treating doctor said the injuries suffered by Mr Willis were not consistent with the account given to paramedics at the scene by Karimi.
Both brothers later co-operated with investigators.
CCTV taken from the worksite revealed Mr Willis had in fact been crushed by the forklift which was being driven by a worker who allegedly did not hold a licence.
"I have viewed the CCTV footage," Judge Rafter said.
"It is incredible distressing to see Mr Willis crushed by the force of the forklift."
The brothers came to Australia as teenage refugees in 2010 after fleeing violence in Afghanistan.
They are now permanent Australian residents but faced being be deported under immigration laws if they had been handed sentences of 12 months or longer.
"The moral culpability of each is high," Judge Rafter said of the brothers.
"The defendants knew of the potential consequences of the risk which were catastrophic."
Judge Rafter said "steps to lessen or minimise the risks" were available to the pair.
"Those steps were neither complex nor overly burdensome," he said.
Judge Rafter said by their pleas, the brothers accepted they had "consciously disregarded" the risk to their employees and that it was not a "momentary or isolated breach".
Mr Willis was a father of four and had six grandchildren aged between three and 11.
"The Willis family have suffered a profound loss," Judge Rafter said.
"The family have struggled with the loss of Mr Willis."
"(His eldest daughter) ended her victim impact statement by saying: 'We were all robbed of a relationship so dear to each and every one of us and we are all suffering because of it'."
Originally published as Qld first: Owners jailed, fined $3m after worksite death