Family's dismay as OOCL starts preliminary appeal after French court's ruling

Shipping firm found guilty of corporate manslaughter set to appeal

Hayden and Ben Allan outside Tribunal de Grande Instance in Le Havre.

Courtenay Allan

First published in News Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Senior reporter

Bosses of a global shipping company found guilty of causing the death of a Southampton man who plunged 60ft down a lift shaft onboard its vessel are poised to appeal their conviction.

As exclusively reported by the Daily Echo, OOCL was fined 50,000 euros after being found guilty of corporate manslaughter concerning the death of Courtenay Allan 11 years ago.

The ruling was served by a French court earlier this month following a decade-long battle by the long-serving company director’s family seeking answers over his death.

Now the Hong Kong-based company has lodged a preliminary appeal against its conviction, before it is expected to formally challenge the ruling.

Mr Allan, 53, who previously lived in Southampton and West End and had survived the 2001 World Trade Center attacks, had moved to Essex shortly before his death in July 2003.

He was entertaining clients on the OOCL Montreal container ship docked in the French port of Le Havre when he walked through an open elevator door and plummeted six floors from the bridge on to the top of a lift car.

The company was convicted at the Palais de Justice in Paris for causing manslaughter by clumsiness, inattention, negligence or breach of duty of care or safety.

It related to making changes in the operation of an elevator, causing his unintentional death.

In a statement released on its website, the company said: “We find it difficult to reconcile the verdict with the results of the investigations made by various independent experts.

“We have made a filing in order to keep the appeal process open, pending the release of the judgment from the French court.”

It went on to say that Mr Allan was held in the “highest regard” and the company remained deeply saddened by his death.

His sons Hayden, Ben and Tristan said they were shocked by the move.

They said in a statement: “It’s remarkable that after 11 years of refusing to accept responsibility for our father’s death, the company seem hell-bent on pursuing the same course, which will further prolong any closure for our family.

“We have been clear throughout this long ordeal that we will never give up in our battle to receive justice for our father.

“We still hope OOCL will reconsider their unsustainable position which doesn’t look good for their corporate image, but more importantly doesn’t allow us as a family to finally get on with our own lives.”

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