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Manslaughter case plea adjourned until August

The first corporate manslaughter case to go to court in the UK has been adjourned until August, when pleas will be heard.

Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings is facing a charge of gross negligence manslaughter under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 after a young geologist was killed at a building site in Gloucestershire last September.

Company director Peter Eaton is also facing manslaughter charges under common law, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

A preliminary hearing was held at Bristol Crown Court on Tuesday, where a date of 19 August was set for a plea management hearing.

If the company or Mr Eaton pleads guilty, a trial is not expected to be held until at least late autumn.

The case was committed to crown court last week after a judge at the Stroud Magistrates ruled it needed to be heard by a higher court.

Alexander Wright was taking soil samples from a development site near Stroud when the pit he was working in collapsed, killing him.

Rescue workers took more than two days to recover his body from several tonnes of mud.

The landmark charge was recorded against the company, the court heard, “because of the way in which the organisation’s activities were managed or organised, caused the death of a person, namely Alexander James Wright by gross negligence, which amounted to a gross breach of a relevant duty of care owed to the deceased, contrary to section 1 of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007”.

The prosecution is the first brought under the Corporate Manslaughter Act.

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