'TRAGEDY': RASQ fined $100,000 over Josh Park-Fing death
THE Royal Agricultural Society of Queensland has been fined $100,000 for a Workplace Health and Safety breach which resulted in the death of a teenager on a Work for the Dole project at the Toowoomba Showgrounds.
Joshua William Park-Fing died as a result of head injuries sustained after falling from a flatbed trailer being towed by a Massey Ferguson tractor at the Glenvale showgrounds on April 19, 2016.
Toowoomba Magistrates Court heard the 18-year-old and two others, including a 14-year-old boy, had been sitting on the trailer and had been collecting wheelie bins to empty.
As the tractor increased speed the trailer had bounced on the road surface and Mr Park-Fing had been thrown from the trailer.
Magistrate Andy Cridland, in a judgment that took an hour and 20 minutes to hand down via video link from Ipswich Magistrates Court, said supervisors had known that no-one should have been travelling on the back of the trailer but this had been the practice for some time.
The prosecution had sought a fine of between $200,000 and $280,000.
Mr Cridland said, by defence submissions, it was acknowledged that the RASQ was a not-for-profit organisation that was in dire financial straits and was $360,000 overdrawn on a $460,000 overdraft.
Employment company NEATO which had supplied the workers for the work for the project at the showgrounds had been fined $90,000 after pleading guilty to an offence stemming from the same incident, the court heard.
Mr Cridland referred to a number of comparable cases but noted most of those were of companies and not not-for-profit organisations which relied mainly on volunteers.
Mr Cridland also referred to a victim impact statement penned by Joshua Park-Fing's mother Jennifer Fing in which she expressed her "feeling of brokenness" that she had been left with after the tragic death of her son. Mr Cridland said it was impossible not to be moved by Mrs Fing's statement.
Mrs Fing sat at the back of the court throughout the proceedings yesterday but declined to comment when leaving the court.
Mr Cridland said he accepted a fine of between $200,000 to $280,000 was within range but said any fine over $100,000 would prove difficult for the RASQ to pay and that it might ultimately be left to the State Government or the community to cover the cost.
Taking into account the RASQ had no previous convictions and its plea of guilty to the charge, Mr Cridland ordered no conviction be recorded against the RASQ but ordered the Society pay court costs of $2345 on top of the $100,000 fine, all of which he referred to SPER for payment.