A trucking company has been fined after a dad-of-two was killed while unloading a lorry.

Anthony Clark, 51, from Darlington, was killed instantly when a piece of machinery he and his team were moving fell from a trailer and hit him.

The father and grandfather and avid Sunderland fan, who had recently got engaged to his fiancé Marie before the incident on August 17, 2018, was helping move the equipment from one trailer to another at his employer GCS Johnson’s depot at the Barton Quarry industrial estate in Richmond.

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He and Marie had been due to sail off together on a cruise on the day of his funeral.

An investigation launched by the Health and Safety Executive found that while the machinery, which was in two parts, was being moved the smaller spart fell free, striking Anthony and killing him immediately.

The Northern Echo: Anthony Clark with his brother GrahamAnthony Clark with his brother Graham (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

His former employer appeared at Leeds Magistrates Court on Wednesday (May 3) and pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety laws.

It was fined £140,000 and ordered to pay £18,355.07 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing alongside her and Anthony’s brother Graham, his sister Elaine Clark said: “Today’s verdict will not bring our Anthony back. He absolutely should not have died at work that day.

“He should still be here but he’s not. And that leaves a huge void in all our lives that nothing will ever replace.

The Northern Echo: Anthony with grandson JakeAnthony with grandson Jake (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

“Mum has lost her son. Marie has lost her fiancé. Graham and I don’t have our baby brother anymore. His daughters don’t have their dad. His grandchildren will never get to know their Grandad.

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“None of us get to see his smile. None of us get to hear him laugh. He doesn’t get to ride his scooter with his mates. Or go to watch Sunderland every week. He will never get old like the rest of us.

“Nearly five years on, family events that should be joyous occasions are tainted by our Anthony not being there. And that will never change.

The Northern Echo: Anthony with grandson HugoAnthony with grandson Hugo (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

“I can only repeat, he absolutely should not have died at work that day.”

In 1997 the Echo reported on the death of another GCS Johnson employee who, an inquest heard, died after part of a trailer collapsed on him while he was guiding another heavy goods vehicle into a parking pay.

Arthur Leonard Harold Lancaster was 40 when he died in October 1996 after suffering multiple injuries during the accident at the site at Barton Quarry.

A jury decided that his death was accidental. 

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After the hearing, HSE inspector Julian Franklin said: “You can tell from the moving tribute from Anthony’s sister, Elaine, how popular he was and the severe impact his death has had on the family.

“If the load had been examined carefully prior to the lift being carried out, the team would have identified that it was in two pieces. As it was, the lifting method used was not suitable for a load of that size and shape, and a lifting plan should have been prepared.

“This terrible incident could so easily have been avoided by simply implementing the correct control measures and safe working practices.”