Two men have been found guilty of manslaughter after a 32-tonne truck with faulty brakes crashed in Bath killing four people, including a four-year-old girl.

Haulage boss Matthew Gordon, 30, and mechanic Peter Wood, 55, were convicted on Thursday (22 December) following a trial at Bristol crown court.

Phillip Potter, 20, the driver of the truck, was cleared of dangerous and careless driving charges.

The crash, on 9 February last year, saw the heavily-loaded Scania truck carrying aggregate speed out of control on Lansdown Hill, Weston Village, and hit a number of pedestrians, killing four-year-old Mitzi Steady who was walking with her grandmother.

Robert Parker, 59, of Cwmbran, south Wales, and Swansea residents Philip Allen, 52, and Stephen Vaughan, 34, were also killed after their car was hit by the runaway vehicle. The truck only came to a stop when it toppled on its side.

A number of people were also seriously injured in the crash, including Mitzi's grandmother Margaret Rogers who suffered life-changing injuries.

During the four-week trial, the court heard how Potter had been following Gordon, the owner of Wiltshire-based Grittenham Haulage, down the steep lane when the brakes on his 11-year-old truck failed.

The pair were travelling from Shorncote Quarry to collect aggregate and deliver it to the park and ride at Newbridge.

Potter, who had only worked at the company a few days, told the jury: "I tried the handbrake. I put it on and nothing. I tried putting the lorry into third gear to try and get the engine to slow it down.

"I was really scared because I never had anything like this happen to me before. I blasted the horn. It was the only thing I could think of to warn people that I couldn't stop."

Witnesses said they saw smoke coming from Potter's lorry and smelt the brakes burning moments before the crash.

Prosecutor Adam Vaitilingam QC told the jury that Gordon was granted an operator's licence in 2013, the first time he had run a business of this kind.

"The evidence will show that he was not interested in doing it properly," he said. "His operation was a shambles from start to finish."

The court heard how the company had flouted safety regulations with vehicles signed off as being roadworthy despite long-standing faults.

The condition of the brakes on the lorry was totally inadequate, the court heard, with an overall efficiency of just 28%.

Detective Chief Inspector Rich Ocone, of Avon and Somerset Police, said: "Our investigation revealed a shocking picture of a company culture with complete disregard of safety and maintenance. This was a company with a very casual attitude towards safety.

"If there is a message which needs to come from this tragic incident, it is that company owners must adhere to a duty of care to the public. The public have an expectation to trust that businesses ensure that they are operating safely. Regular maintenance and servicing of all vehicles – but especially heavy goods vehicles is vital."

Gordon, of Dauntsey, Wiltshire, and Wood, of Brinkworth, Wiltshire, had denied charges against them, including manslaughter by failing to ensure the tipper truck's brakes were in a safe condition.

Each was convicted of four counts of manslaughter. The pair, who were remanded in custody, will be sentenced on 27 January.

Potter, of Dauntsey, Wiltshire, denied causing serious injury, and deaths by dangerous and careless driving. He was cleared of all charges.

bath truck crash
Victims killed in the Bath truck crash, clockwise from top left, Mitzi Steady, four, Philip Allen, 52, Stephen Vaughn, 34, and Robert Parker, 59 Avon and Somerset Constabulary