THE parents of a schoolboy who was killed after being hit by a lorry driven by a Crewe man have called for a change in the law after his employer was cleared of manslaughter.
Thomas and Bernadette Byrne spoke yesterday after HGV driver Martin Wrigglesworth was sentenced following the death of their 12-year-old son Gerard.
Wrigglesworth, 31, of Newcastle Street, Crewe, was originally charged with causing death by dangerous driving, but admitted a lesser charge of driving without due care and attention. He was ordered to pay £1,050 in fines and costs and had six penalty points placed on his licence.
Gerard Byrne died instantly after being struck by a lorry as he walked home from school on June 22, 1999.
He had stopped to tie his shoe laces on the pavement outside the entrance of Oakes Mill, in Biddulph Road, Congleton, when the accident happened at about 5pm.
Prosecutor Julian Goose said the mill had a turning area for the many articulated HGVs that used the yard each day, but if the yard was congested, drivers would often reverse down the narrow driveway onto Biddulph Road.
Mr Justice Holland told Wrigglesworth: 'You failed to keep a proper look out. You should have seen him.'
Company director Michael John Jepson, 50, of Middlewich Road, Holmes Chapel, and his two animal feed businesses Oakes Mill Ltd and HJ Lea Oakes Ltd were originally charged with the manslaughter of Gerard Byrne and failing to discharge a duty.
But on Friday Mr Justice Holland ruled the jury at Chester Crown Court should return a verdict of not guilty in relation to the charges of manslaughter against Jepson and H J Lea Oakes Ltd and its subsidiary Oakes Millers Ltd, of Aston Mill, Nantwich.
Both, however, admitted a charge of failing to discharge a duty and were fined a total of £60,000 between them.
Yesterday Mrs Byrne, of Lamberts Lane, Congleton, said: 'The companies can walk away with a fine but this is a life sentence for us.'
She also called on the Government to implement a law for corporate killing so company bosses could be held responsible.
'Until that happens companies are not going to be held to account,' she said.
The Byrnes have been backed by the Centre for Corporate Accountability who are pressing for a change in the law.
Director David Bergman claimed: 'The ruling of Mr Justice Holland appears to allow company directors to create a dangerous set of conditions within their company yet escape manslaughter accountability simply because the immediate cause of death was the act of an ordinary worker.'