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Civil Aviation Authority v The Alpine Group Ltd [2022] NZDC 20040

Published 20 October 2022

Sentencing — failure to ensure health and safety of workers — failure to ensure health and safety of other persons — Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, ss 3, 17, 36, 48 & 151 — Sentencing Act 2002, ss 7, 8, 10 & 32 — Linfox Logistics (NZ) Ltd v Worksafe New Zealand [2018] NZHC 2909 — Stumpmaster v WorkSafe New Zealand [2018] NZHC 2020, [2018] 3 NZLR 881 — Department of Labour v Hanham and Philp Contractors Ltd (2008) 6 NZELR 79 (HC) — R v Taueki [2005] 3 NZLR 372 (CA) — Hessell v R [2010] NZSC 135, [2011] 1 NZLR 607, (2010) 24 CRNZ 966 — Moses v R [2020] NZCA 296 — Civil Aviation Authority v Scott [2019] NZDC 9458 — Civil Aviation Authority v The Helicopter Line Ltd [2018] NZDC 3559 — WorkSafe New Zealand v Dong Xing Group Ltd [2018] NZDC 22114 — WorkSafe New Zealand v New Zealand Defence Force [2020] NZDC 21437 — WorkSafe New Zealand v Dimac Contractors Limited [2017] NZDC 26648. The defendant heli-service company was for sentence having pleaded guilty to two charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA): one for failing to comply with its duty to ensure that the health and safety of other persons was not put at risk, and one for failing to ensure that its workers were not put at risk. The charges related to an incident during the flight of a helicopter, leased by the company, where the rear door opened and the helicopter crashed. The three persons aboard the helicopter (the chief executive officer of the helicopter company and two Department of Conservation workers) all died as a result of the crash. Sentencing in HSWA cases is well-established following the Stumpmaster case: assess the amount of reparation; fix the fine by reference to the guideline culpability bands; determine whether any further orders are necessary; and make an overall proportionality assessment. The Judge considered the offending to be in the medium culpability band, due to company culture of not following established safety manuals. The Court set a starting point for fine of $500,000. A discount of 20 per cent was given for an early guilty plea; discounts of 5 per cent each were given for prior safety record and co-operation with the investigation, and a 7 per cent discount was given for remorse and reparation. There were not aggravating factors of the offending. The end fine was one of $315,000. The Court also ordered that the defendant pay a 50 per cent contribution to the prosecution's legal costs, amounting to $64,766.94. Judgment Date: 11 October 2022.