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by Karen Miles • A week-long hearing has been scheduled to examine the evidence in the manslaughter charge against Eric Preston, the former transport manager of killer haulier Fewston Transport.
Magistrates at Calderdale near Halifax have allowed five days from 2125 July to hear prosecution witnesses. They will then decide if there is sufficient evidence to send Preston for trial.
Preston was transport manager of Skipton-based Fewston Transport when one of its trucks ran out of control at Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire and killed six people in 1993.
If the magistrates decide there is a case to answer a full-scale manslaughter trial will be held at a Crown Court. If Preston is found guilty he could face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
However, if the magistrates decide otherwise, the case against Preston will be dismissed. The case has not been automatically committed from the magistrates to the Crown Court because Preston has asked for an old-style committal hearing. This will enable his lawyers to submit that Preston has no case to answer and to ask for the charge to be dismissed without being put to a jury.
Fewston Transport, which lost its Operator's Licence in December 1995, was fined £5,000 after the accident for using a vehicle with defective brakes.
Preston is the first transport employee to have been charged with manslaughter after a fatal truck accident. Recently a couple who run a Northampton catering company were similarly charged (see below).