Pike River families speak out at sentencing

JUDGE Jane Farish has heard impact statements from relatives of the Pike River disaster victims as the company responsible faces sentencing in Greymouth District Court, New Zealand .
Pike River families speak out at sentencing Pike River families speak out at sentencing Pike River families speak out at sentencing Pike River families speak out at sentencing Pike River families speak out at sentencing


Staff Reporter

Over two days of sentencing, Judge Farish has been listening to more than 20 statements from the people who lost family members in the series of November 2010 explosions that killed 29 men.

Farish convicted Pike River Coal Ltd in May on nine health and safety charges laid by the former Department of Labour.

The Greymouth judge said in her final judgement that the breaches were "causative of the explosion and the subsequent deaths of the men who perished".

The company will be sentenced tomorrow, with each of the nine charges carrying a maximum penalty of $NZ250,000.

Kath Monk lost her son, Michael, in the tragedy. Reading her victim impact statement, she told the court she was disgusted she had never received an apology from the company.

“This has been called an accident, however the definition of an accident is an unforeseen event or one without apparent cause but in our eyes, this was not the case,” Mrs Monk said.

“It is really hurtful and insulting that no one has admitted their responsibility, and it makes us feel that there is such little value placed on the lives of the 29 men.”

Mrs Monk’s husband, Bernie, has been the spokesman for the families since the accident. ILN spoke to Mr Monk in May following Judge Farish’s judgement.

At the time, Mr Monk thanked Judge Farish for giving the families the opportunity to speak at the sentencing.

“The one thing that we are going to get out of it is the families are going to finally be able to [give statements],” Mr Monk told ILN.

“Some of us were lucky enough to speak at the royal commission hearing, but not all the families had that opportunity, so it is now time for them to provide those statements [at the sentencing] because Judge Farish has in her wisdom allowed that to happen.”

The company has been in liquidation since late 2010 and receivers PricewaterhouseCoopers are not defending the charges.

According to 3News, no representatives from the company were in court today.

A trial date for chief executive Peter Whittall has yet to be set, but to date he has denied all 12 charges laid against him under the Health and Safety in Employment Act.

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