Snaith trial: ‘Systematic falsification’

A catalogue of purportedly falsified tachograph records recovered from Otterburn-based Howard Snaith and Partners revealed how drivers repeatedly broke regulations, a jury was told by DVSA Traffic Examiner David White.

Mr White was giving evidence during the trial of the Partnership, Partner Alison Snaith and her sister Jessie Hickie plus 10 drivers at Newcastle-upon-Tyne Crown Court.

All 12 defendants have pleaded not guilty to conspiring to falsify tachograph records, and Alison Snaith and driver Stephen Clark have pleaded not guilty to intending to pervert the course of justice by creating false tachograph records in their name when they were not the driver.

The prosecution alleges that there was a culture of consistently and systematically falsifying tachograph records from top to bottom at the firm. Alison Snaith was the dominant personality in the business. She ran it. False records could not have been created without her involvement (routeone, Court Report, 4 and 18 February).

By comparing records recovered in a raid at the firm’s headquarters in Otterburn by officers from the DVSA, Mr White claimed to have discovered a catalogue of inconsistencies.

The jury was given a detailed list of driving records relating to the 10 drivers in the trial, which purported to show that records of their driving on the vehicles’ digital tachographs did not match the analogue tachograph charts recorded manually by the driver.

In the case of driver Stephen Clark, Mr White told the court how on a number of occasions hours that were recorded digitally failed to match up with the details recorded manually for the same day. The additional hours record digitally showed how Mr Clark would often go illegally over the maximum duty time a driver was allowed to work. There were also inconsistencies from 5 to 11 July 2010, when Mr Clark was listed as taking four rest days but his payment slip showed him as being paid for five full days of work.

Mr White said: “Mr Clark’s analogue chart is a completely inaccurate record of his digital record.”

The trial continues.