Judge orders retrial of miner’s death

Prosecutors have successfully appealed for the 2008 death of an apprentice on BHP Billiton’s Yandi mine to be retried.

A judge has overruled an acquittal on charges Western Australian contractor HWE failed to provide a safe working environment.

In September 2008 19-year-old Adam Michael Sargeant was killed on the Pilbara site when his light vehicle was crushed by a haul truck.

During an eight day trial where 21 witnesses were called, Yandi operators HWE were accused of failing to ensure the road where the collision occurred was sufficiently designed and signposted, The West Australian reports.

However at the trial’s conclusion Magistrate Michael Wheeler found the fatality was the result of operator error rather than employer oversight.

Appealing the judgement in the Supreme Court, prosecutors claimed the magistrate failed to consider whether HWE had taken every practical step to avoid the incident.

Justice Jeremy Allanson ruled in favour of the prosecution, ordering a retrial under a different magistrate.

Commenting on the development a BHP spokesperson told Australian Mining it "is aware that the Supreme Court has overturned the acquittal of HWE Mining in relation to the DMP’s prosecution of HWE Mining for the incident that sadly resulted in the death of Adam Sargeant at our Yandi site".

"Our thoughts remain with the family and friends of Adam Sargeant during this difficult time.”

The accident occurred ten days after the death of 29-year-old maintenance supervisor Paul Sparkes who was struck by the arm of a tyre handler at Yandi.

In October 2013 Perth Magistrates Court fined both BHP Iron Ore and sub-contractor HWE $230,000 for failing to provide a safe working environment at the time of Sparkes’ death.

Following the two accidents operations at Yandi mine, located approximately 140 kilometres North West of Newman, were suspended for a short time.  

BHP acquired HWE Mining from Leighton Holdings in 2011.

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