Timeline of how the tipper truck tragedy unfolded

It has been five years since the Tipper Truck tragedy devastated Bath. On February 9, 2015, a 32-tonne tipper truck went out of control on Lansdown Lane, crashing into pedestrians and parked cars. Bath four-year-old Mitzi Steady was killed, along with Robert Parker, 59, Philip Allen, 52, and Stephen Vaughan, 34 – all from Wales.

Others, including Mitzi’s grandmother sustained life-changing injuries. The crash devastated the community around Lansdown Lane and shocked the city of Bath. Residents of Lansdown Lane have recently spoken on how they fear another tragedy could happen[1] on the lane.

Here we look back at the key events.

Time Line

How Bath Tipper Truck tragedy happened

  1. The tragedy

    On Monday February 9 a tipper truck driven by Phillip Potter crashed into pedestrians and cars killing four people after its brakes failed on Lansdown Lane’s steep hill. Bath four-year-old Mitzi Steady, Stephen Vaughan, 34, of Swansea, south Wales, and Philip Allen, 52, and Robert Parker, 59, both of Cwmbran, south Wales lost their lives. Other pedestrians were seriously injured in the crash.

    The driver and the owner of the haulage company where arrested.

  2. Special assembly held

    A special assembly was held at Weston All Saints Primary School on Wednesday February 11, where Mitzi’s siblings attended school. Speaking on behalf of Weston All Saints Primary School (WASPS) the head teacher at the time Dr Anne Bull offered her condolences. She said: “On behalf of the school community, I would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of those who died yesterday.

    We also send our best wishes to the people that have been injured. This is a truly shocking event that has been deeply felt by the local community. We will be supporting any children that need bereavement counselling, as some pupils may have been affected because this accident took place so near to the school.”

  3. A city mourns

    Timeline of how the tipper truck tragedy unfolded

    The Bath Chronicle captures the mood of shock and sadness across the city in its edition of February 12, 2015

  4. Two arrested released on bail

    Two arrested at the time of the crash where released on bail on February 18.

  5. Mitzi Steady’s funeral at Bath Abbey

    Timeline of how the tipper truck tragedy unfolded

    Mitzi Steady’s funeral was held at Bath Abbey on February 23.

    Hundreds of people joined family and friends at Bath Abbey for the funeral. In a letter to her daughter read out during the service, her mother said: “We only had four years with you but they were the best years of our lives.”

  6. Two charged

    Bath police charged two men in connection with the tragedy on Dec 16 2015. Phillip John Potter, 19, and Matthew Gordon, 29, where charged – the charges against Potter were later dismissed.

    Potter was charged with two counts of causing death by dangerous driving and two counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving. Matthew Gordon was charged with two counts of aiding, abetting, counselling and procuring/aiding and abetting death by dangerous driving and two counts of aiding, abetting, counselling and procuring/aiding and abetting serious injury by dangerous driving. He has also been charged with one count of dangerous driving.

  7. First court appearance

    Two men accused of causing the deaths of four people in the Lansdown Lane tipper truck tragedy appeared in court for the first time on January 21, 2016.

    Phillip John Potter and Matthew Gordon appeared in a brief preliminary hearing at Bath Magistrates’ Court.

  8. Remembrance service for one year on

    Young and old gathered to remember Mitzi Steady. Reverend Patrick Whitworth led a service of remembrance at Weston All Saints Church. Amanda Cameron, Bath Chronicle journalist wrote: “People silently wiped away tears and mothers held their children close as psalms were read and four candles were lit on behalf of those who died in the tragedy.”

  9. Second court appearance

    On February 22 the two accused appeared at Bristol Crown Court.

    It transpired they may not face trail for several months more to allow time for prosecution and defence lawyers to gather additional expert evidence. Neither defendant had entered a plea.

  10. Mechanic charged with manslaughter

    On May 12 the mechanic of the truck appeared in Court charged with the manslaughter of Mitzi Steady, Stephen Vaughan, Philip Allen and Robert Parke. Peter Wood was a mechanic for Grittenham Haulage – the company which owned the truck – at the time of the incident.

  11. First court appearance of mechanic

    Timeline of how the tipper truck tragedy unfolded

    On Friday June 10 Peter Wood appeared in Bristol Crown Court.

    He faced two counts of manslaughter – the first charge relates to the death of four-year-old Mitzi Steady, and the second to those of Stephen Vaughan, Philip Allen and Robert Parker. He entered no plea and was released on unconditional bail.

  12. Driver seeks to have charged dropped

    Timeline of how the tipper truck tragedy unfolded

    The driver of the tipper truck, Phillip Potter, tried to have his charged dropped. He was facing one charge of causing death by dangerous driving, and another for the death of Stephen Vaughan, Philip Allen and Robert Parke.

    He was also charged with dangerous driving causing the serious injury of the pedestrians injured in the incident.

  13. Three go to court

    Timeline of how the tipper truck tragedy unfolded

    Mr Potter’s attempt to have the charges dropped against him failed. The three accused, Potter, Gordon and Wood appeared at Bristol Crown Court on October 6 2016. It emerged that Gordon, the owner of Grittenham Haulage, and mechanic Wood, were accused of failing to properly check and maintain the brakes of the truck

  14. Trial starts

    The trial of the three men started in November 2016.

    Phillip Potter, 20, Matthew Gordon, 30, and Peter Wood, 55, faced a total of 14 charges. The trial heard heard that the driver at the wheel when the brakes failed on his heavily-loaded tipper truck had reported a warning light to his boss, but had been told to ignore it. At the opening of the trial the jury was told that experts found “serious and long-standing defects” with the brakes of the lorry involved in the collision.

    However, virtually no defects had been recorded in paperwork from a number of safety checks of the lorry involved in the collision – despite its having travelled more than 430,000 miles – and no problems with the brakes of the lorry were noted in the safety check immediately prior to the crash.

  15. Former driver testified that brakes had failed on him

    The trial heard from a former driver who said the brakes failed on him. The jury also heard an expert witness state to the court that the lorry would have been taken off the road in a roadside test.

  16. Mitzi had green light to cross

    The court heard how four-year-old Mitzi Steady was crossing the road on a green signal when the runaway tipper truck with little more than a quarter of its maximum braking power fatally struck her. The jury were told the information was among the “agreed facts” of the case, which means they are not in dispute.

  17. Driver takes the witness stand

    On Wednesday December 14 Phillip Potter took to the stand after 16 days of the trial.

    He told how his boss had told him not to tell the police about a warning light after the crash. Potter said that after he got out of the lorry his boss Matthew Gordon grabbed hold of me and said ‘don’t tell the police about the ABS light’ and then he walked off.” Before Potter took to the stand his fellow defendant Wood gave evidence and refused to accept any blame for the crash.

  18. Jury retires

    On day 21 of the case the jury retired to consider the verdict.

    The six men and five women of the jury – a twelfth juror was discharged due to illness – decided the fates of Phillip Potter, 20, Matthew Gordon, 30, and Peter Wood, 55.

  19. Two men found guilty

    On December 22, Matthew Gordon, the owner of the lorry which caused the devastation on Lansdown Lane when its brakes failed in February last year, and Peter Wood, the mechanic employed by Grittenham Haulage were convicted of four counts of manslaughter as a result of gross negligence, after a 23-day trial at Bristol Crown Court.

    The driver of the tipper lorry involved in the tragedy, Phillip Potter, was found not guilty of all the charges he faced.

  20. Two men sentenced

    On Friday 27 January Gordon was sentenced to seven years and six months in prison, and Wood to five years and three months, at Bristol crown court.

References

  1. ^ spoken on how they fear another tragedy could happen (www.somersetlive.co.uk)

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