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Prosecution Details

Offender Steele Warwick Charles Grocott

Charges

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Charge Charge Number Offence Date Date Convicted Regulation Section Penalty Provision Penalty Imposed Date Sentenced
1 AR698/2018 19 August 2015 27th March 2019 20A(2)(c) $4,000.00 27th March 2019
Description of Breach(es)

Being an employee, failed to take reasonable care to avoid adversely affecting the safety or health of any other person through any act or omission at work, and by that failure caused the death of a person; contrary to sections 20(1)(b) and 20A(2) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.

 

Background Details

At all material times the Accused was an employee of the Department of Justice and employed as a Garden Vocational Support Officer.

At the time of the incident the Department of Justice was known as the Department of Corrective Services.

The Department of Justice is responsible for Hakea Prison (Hakea) a maximum security remand facility that receives adult male prisoners entering the prison system. At any time there are approximately 960 prisoners at Hakea of which 800 prisoners are on remand managed by approximately 435 employees.

The victim was a remand prisoner at Hakea.  He worked in the maintenance workshop. The maintenance workshop is one of a number of workshops. Together with the kitchen the workshops are collectively known as “industries” (Industries).  The Industries are grouped around a rectangular yard known as the industries or services yard (Yard).

The Yard has one narrow vehicular access point known as a “sally port” (Sally Port).

The Yard has multiple pedestrian access points.  Each of the many workshops backs on to the Yard and has roller doors.  The Yard also has gates which the Accused’s staff can access and is a short cut through the prison.

Vehicles access the Yard multiple times a week to make deliveries to the Yard e.g. to the kitchen; and to collect rubbish.

The Yard is a physically tight space for delivery vehicles.  There is not enough room for a big vehicle to turn without reversing.  Vehicles typically choose to exit the Yard by reversing into the kitchen loading dock (Kitchen Dock) or other workshops.

The incident

On 19 August 2015, Facilities and Industry Manager, organised a work party to clean out residential units 11 and 12 (Units 11 & 12) prior to a redevelopment.

The work party comprised a number of prisoners from different workshops (including the victim) and supervising vocational support officers (VSOs). 

The day before, it had been decided that the Accused, would drive the kitchen truck. It was not the Accused’s decision.

The kitchen truck was a large truck so it could not turn in the tight space of the yard. It had to be reversed before being driven forward.  The Accused held the relevant license but he had not previously driven the truck.

Before driving the truck the Accused was briefly familiarised with the truck.  The tail lift and gear shift were pointed out but no handover was given on operating the truck.

The work party were not briefed on how to safely work around the truck when it was operating and there were not any procedures, training, supervision or enforcement of measures to safely move around when vehicles were in the yard. It was common for prisoners, prison officers and VSOs to move around in the yard whilst a vehicle was being operated.

Once Units 11 & 12 had been cleared, the contents were loaded onto the truck. The prisoners returned to the Yard for lunch.  The Accused drove the Truck back to the Yard.  He parked it outside the cleaning party workshop and it was unloaded.

When the Accused drove the truck into the yard the prisoners were directed to move bins out of the way of the truck whilst it was moving forward to park, which meant prisoners were only a few meters away from the moving truck. Pedestrians were also in the yard as the Accused drove the truck up to the cleaning workshop. 

After lunch the victim, two fellow prisoners and their supervising VSO (Group) walked across the Yard to check the pigeon holes in the administration area.

At around the same time the Facilities and Industry Manager instructed the Accused to drive the Truck back to Units 11 & 12 to collect a second load.

The Accused reversed the Truck through the Yard and backed into the Kitchen Dock in order to turn it round to exit the Yard through the Sally Port.

As he was doing so, the Group exited the administration building to walk back to the maintenance workshop next to the Sally Port.  The Accused either asked for, or the victim offered, assistance in reversing into the Kitchen Dock.

The victim walked down the side of the Truck into the Kitchen Dock where he gave directions to the Accused.

After reversing into the kitchen dock, the truck then drove forward and turned towards the Sally Port.  As the Truck drove forward its rear swung out, pinning the victim between the Truck and the side wall of the Kitchen Dock. 

The victim suffered fatal injuries and was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at Fiona Stanley Hospital.




Outcome Summary

The Accused was found guilty after a three day trial.  The Magistrate fined the Accused $4,000.00 and ordered costs of $9,500.00.

Court Magistrates Court of Western Australia - Perth
Costs $4,000.00

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