A PEMBROKESHIRE haulage company has been landed with a £380,000 fine with £120,000 costs for forging lorry maintenance records which risked the safety of other road users.

Mansel Davies and Son Ltd, based in Llanfyrnach, received the fine at Swansea Crown Court today (February 11) after pleading guilty to 19 offences of forgery and counterfeiting maintenance records from October to December 2017 at an earlier hearing.

Jonathan Phillips, aged 28 of Mynachlog-ddu, an administrative assistant at the company, was also given a nine-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

He was also ordered to pay £1,500 costs after pleading guilty to forging maintenance records.

The sentencing follows an investigation by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).

The DVSA found the company, which had a turnover of £25 million in 2019, was forging its lorry maintenance records to suggest it was carrying out its regular full vehicle examinations to meet the requirements of its operator licence.

A handwriting expert identified that one person within the company was writing the false records.

DVSA’s Head of National Enforcement Caroline Hicks said: “DVSA’s priority is to protect everyone from unsafe drivers and vehicles. 

“This large company forged safety documents to deliberately avoid regular maintenance checks on their vehicles, this put the public and their employees at risk.

“We always pursue operators and push for the toughest penalties where there’s evidence they are cutting corners at the expense of road safety.” 

Yesterday’s, February 10 sentencing hearing, prior to today’s sentencing, heard how, on January 8, 2018, one of the company's vehicles was travelling along the A40 when it was discovered a rear shock absorber was broken, which it was deemed to be long-standing.

The vehicle’s ABS and emissions lamps were also both illuminated.

The court heard yesterday how Phillips was arrested and interviewed under caution, admitting he had forged records on the instruction from higher management.

He accepted he knew it was wrong, but that he was following instructions.

He would not say who the person was who instructed him to carry out the task.

The court heard the company has since made significant efforts to improve its compliance.

But no information was supplied relating to why the instructions were given to dishonestly forge the documents.

"It is a deliberate and flagrant course of action which has put the lives of employees and road users at risk,” said prosecutor Jonathan Rees.

"The company has put profit before safety when it skipped safety inspections on its vehicles and created false inspection records."

Representing the company, Robert Smith said: "These offences were committed over a short period of time by a company with a long history of trading.

"The company has a good reputation and are well known in Wales and its reputation is going to be damaged by this conviction.

"An aggravating feature in this case is that Jonathan Phillips is implicated. He is a valued employee and the company bears responsibility for implicating him in the offences which he has pleaded guilty to and is deeply regretful that has been placed in this position."

Nigel Bisson, for Phillips, said: "This has been a massive learning curve for him. His previous employment was as a security guard at a holiday camp.

"He is bottom of the chain of command and has been incredibly stupid. He poses no risk of reoffending."

Giving his sentencing today, February 11, Judge Geraint Walters said: "I can be sure that the purpose of the creation was to dupe the authorities."

He added: "Complacency reigned at the time of offending, and it's common ground that they were created as a deliberate attempt to deceive."