Portworker's family nearing justice

HEARTBROKEN relatives of an Ipswich port worker who died in a horrific accident were today a major step forward in their long pursuit of justice.

HEARTBROKEN relatives of an Ipswich port worker who died in a horrific accident were today a major step forward in their long pursuit of justice.

Cargo handler Brian Vince was struck by a vehicle while loading a ferry in March 2007 - prompting a major investigation, an inquest and criminal proceedings.

But this week his family was given new hope of moving on from the tragedy when his bosses accepted responsibility for the incident which caused him fatal injuries.

The development follows a lengthy probe by the Health and Safety Executive and an inquest, which ruled that the accident had come about as a result of “vulnerable working conditions” at Ipswich port.

Associated British Ports (ABP) pleaded guilty to a charge under the Health and Safety at Work Act when the company appeared before magistrates in Ipswich on Monday.

The court heard that ABP had failed in its duty to ensure the safety of the 60-year-old cargo handler while he was using a terminal tractor to load a roll-on, roll-off ferry.

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Mr Vince, of Lanercost Way, Ipswich, died from horrific injuries to his chest and pelvis after being hit by a vehicle.

Matthew Taylor, prosecuting for the Health and Safety Executive, said: “Mr Vince was on the ramp at the stern of the ship when a reversing tug (trailer) struck him. He received fatal injuries from the collision.”

Magistrates decided they did not have the power to sentence the company, so they committed the case to the Ipswich Crown Court on a date which has yet to be confirmed.

After the hearing, a spokesman for ABP said: “We deeply regret the tragic loss of Brian Vince in 2007. At the earliest possible opportunity, we have accepted our responsibility for the accident that resulted in Brian's death.

“We would like to reiterate our condolences and extend our deepest sympathy to Brian's family. Brian was a loyal and a valued member of our team at the Port of Ipswich and his death remains a matter of great sadness for the port and the group as a whole.”

Mr Vince left behind his wife, Patricia, two brothers, two sisters, three children and a grand-daughter, Erin. His family did not wish to comment until legal proceedings had been completed.

Would you like to pay tribute to Mr Vince? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

AT the time of the tragedy, Brian Vince's relatives said they had lost a charismatic man who loved his job.

His wife of 39 years, Patricia Vince, was too devastated to speak, but his daughter, Ronni-Louise Vince, told of the family's heartbreak.

She said: “He was the provider for us all and we can't believe he has gone. He had great charisma and lots of friends. He loved his job. He loved being outside.”

In the wake of the accident, the family also extended their sympathy to the driver of the vehicle involved in the collision and paid tribute to Associated British Ports for the “excellent support” they had been given.

The incident triggered a long investigation by the Health and Safety Executive, which brought criminal charges following inquest.

A jury had heard how the cargo handler was wearing a high visibility jacket which did not meet required standards and hearing protection which would have left it difficult for him to hear oncoming vehicles.

The case also revealed that vehicles with large blind spots would have to move on and off a platform without the consent of a ramp man - the position Mr Vince held.

After the hearing in July last year, port bosses said they had overhauled their procedures at the terminal.

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