Pair who ran Daventry haulage firm jailed for manslaughter and tax evasion

A father and son who ran a Daventry-based haulage firm were today sentenced to a total of eleven years in jail.

The pair were sentenced at St Albans Crown Court in connection with the death of a lorry driver on the M1 in Hertfordshire between junctions 10 and 9 in February 2010. They had been found guilty by a jury on May 10 2013.

Adrian John McMurray, 54, from Frobisher Close in Daventry, and 36-year-old Adrian Paul McMurray from Ivy Road in Northampton were found guilty on May 10 of the Manslaughter of Stephen Kenyon, 35, and offences under the Health and Safety Work Act 1974.

Mr Kenyon died after losing concentration at the wheel causing his 39 ton lorry to collide with stationary traffic.

The court heard the two defendants actively encouraged Mr Kenyon and other members of their workforce to illegally use two tachographs in their vehicles to allow them to work longer than their regulated hours.

Tachographs monitor the length of time a driver has driven for and legislation states that in the UK and Europe drivers of large commercial vehicles are only allowed to drive a maximum of nine hours in a 24 hour period and 10 hours twice a week.

The court heard that Mr Kenyon had been on duty for 19 hours and 15 minutes. He had driven for 13 hours and 8 minutes during this time, covering 592 miles.

The two men were also accused of not retaining the tachographs as they were legally required to do and of running their business in a wholly dishonest manner.

Detective Inspector John Arthur from the Joint Major Crime Unit led the investigation and said: “These men had a total disregard for the safety of their workforce and other road users and whilst Stephen was aware of what he was doing, this practise should never have occurred let alone been encouraged. Their negligence ultimately led to Stephen’s death.

“We have worked tirelessly to bring this complex case to court and I am pleased the McMurrays have been sentenced for their actions.

“My thoughts are with Stephen’s family, particularly his children. I would also like to pay tribute to Stephen’s parents, who have attended court every day, for their dignity and respect.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to remind all drivers that driving whilst tired can be extremely dangerous. People should take suitable breaks to ensure the safety of themselves and others.”

Working with the Joint Major Crime Unit, a parallel criminal investigation was launched by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) into the tax affairs of A J Haulage, previously based in Daventry. The firm was operated by Adrian John McMurray and his son Adrian Paul McMurray, along with their bookkeeper Heather Parkinson.

HMRC uncovered a network of tax fraud totalling £1.2 million. The business failed to declare income of over £5.1 million, didn’t pay income tax or VAT and failed to operate PAYE and National Insurance on wages paid to their employees.

Gary Forbes, Acting Head of Criminal Taxes Unit, HMRC, said: “The McMurrays were calculated and ruthless in their pursuit of making money, regardless of the consequences.

“They failed to declare their earnings to HMRC and didn’t pay the taxes that were due and showed a total disregard for the welfare of their employees. Paying tax is not optional; it is a serious crime that we are determined to eradicate.

“We will continue to work closely with our law enforcement colleagues to ensure justice is served.”

Adrian John McMurray of Frobisher Close, Daventry, was sentenced to a total of seven years in custody.

He pleaded guilty to offences of cheating the public revenue by failing to declare income of £5.1 million, resulting in an income tax loss of £311,000, failing to operate PAYE and National Insurance of £470,000 on individuals employed and being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of VAT totalling £424,000 under the VAT Act 1994. He had also pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of an offensive weapon at an earlier date.

Adrian Paul McMurray of Ivy Road, Northampton, was sentenced to four years in custody.

He pleaded guilty to offences of cheating the public revenue by failing to operate PAYE and National Insurance of £139,921 on individuals employed.