3 Aug 2015

WorkSafe declines, private prosecution wins

7:43 pm on 3 August 2015

The Council of Trade Unions (CTU) has won a private prosecution against a Tokoroa forestry company over the death of a worker, after the government safety regulator declined to prosecute.

Charles Finlay, Maryanne Butler-Finlay and daughters Shelby and Sharneica.

Charles Finlay, Maryanne Butler-Finlay and daughters Shelby and Sharneica Photo: Maryanne Butler-Finlay

In 2013, loader driver Charles Finlay was crushed to death by a log while working in the dark.

WorkSafe investigated but said it could not find enough evidence of wrongdoing to prosecute the 45-year-old's employer, M & A Cross Ltd.

But now M & A Cross Ltd has pleaded guilty in the Rotorua District Court to breaches under the Health and Safety Act.

CTU lawyer Nigel Hampton QC said he was skeptical about WorkSafe's ability after representing the families of miners killed in the Pike River disaster in 2010.

Mr Hampton said its work was lamentable and that attitude had been carried over to the forestry industry.

He said the CTU did not do anything differently in its private prosecution to what WorkSafe would have done had it decided to proceed with its prosecution.

"We didn't reinvent anything - we used the same witnesses that had been interviewed by WorkSafe."

In a statement, WorkSafe said the decision not to prosecute was carefully considered but it would look at whether there were any lessons to be learned from the case.

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