S. Kidman and Co avoids maximum penalty over death of Matthew Arena

by HCA16 May 2017
S. Kidman and Co has been fined $200,000 for failing to comply with its health and safety duties after the death of a 24-year-old employee.

The company, which is majority-owned by Gina Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting, was facing a maximum penalty of up to $1.5 million.

Matthew Arena died five years ago when a 353-kilogram pole fell from a bobcat and crushed him.

S. Kidman and Co admitted guilt to the charge because they allowed use of a bobcat that was not working properly. They also failed to ensure staff were carrying out work in the same manner that had been done before.

Chief Judge John Lowndes said it is clear the company "failed to ensure adequate control measures were in place in circumstances where it proposed to undertake an inherently dangerous task".

He added that the maximum penalty of $1.5 million was only for “the worst kind of offending”.

“I fully accept that in this case Mr Arena’s mother would consider this the worst due to the tragic consequences,” he was quoted as saying by NT News.

“But the actual harm, while relevant, is not the sole consideration of the court.

“The defendant’s culpability falls in the middle of the range.”

S. Kidman and Co previously defended the charge on a technicality, saying prosecutors filed the charge out of time. However, the NT Supreme Court ruled the case could go ahead early last year.

The charges were filed at the request of the family after a coronial investigation.

The barrister for S. Kidman and Co, Miles Crawley, said the incident was “freakish” and that the pole had fallen in a such way that it resulted in a death that was not easily foreseeable.

Crawley said the company spent $50,000 on safety training and assessments and it had made multimillion dollar investments in its pastoral properties to enhance safety and efficiency.

HC contacted S.Kidman and Co for comment and a spokesperson provided the following statement:

"We sympathise with Matthew Arena's family over the very sad loss of their loved one after his passing more than five years ago whilst on a Kidman station in the outback.

"As the new owners of Kidman, we have co‐operated with the DPP to bring legal matters to a close, and hope this can enable privacy for the family suffering from their sad loss, and perhaps help to bring some
closure for them.

"The HPPL Group, well supported by our Chinese partners in Kidman, is making significant multi‐million investments in new technology and other investments which will enhance safety of employees on the
Kidman pastoral stations, similar to what we have already done and or are implementing on our other HPPL Group stations."

 

COMMENTS

  • by Nazih B. 16/05/2017 4:18:31 PM

    That is a very disappointing outcome. Given the fact they prolonged the hearing by trying to dodge their failures, a late guilty plea after they were cornered through failed appeals, one would have expected a more hefty fine at least closer to $1 million mark. I think the prosecution should consider appealing this decision.

  • by David 22/05/2017 12:34:26 PM

    The legal profession is a disgrace and always has been. This for the death of a worker yet look some lady falls off a short step ladder working for a store and the learned magistrate finds the company was negligent as she wasn't trained to use it. She had seen everyone else using it but wasn't given specific training !! and she got a big payout ! absolute rubbish by that arbitrator !

    Appears to me the judicial system is less about justice and more about keeping lawyers(their mates) in work.

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