OWNER ACQUITTED OF NEGLIGENCE IN AUTO SHOP DEATH
A former Halifax autobody shop owner has been acquitted of criminal negligence causing the death of a mechanic who was badly burned when a minivan suddenly caught fire as he was welding beneath it. The charge was the first in the province under Bill C-45 — also known as the Westray law — which was passed after 26 miners were killed when methane gas ignited in the Plymouth, N.S., mine. Peter Kempton was working under a 1998 Dodge Caravan at Your Mechanic Auto Corner in Dartmouth in September 2013 when it became engulfed in flames. His boss, shop owner Elie Phillip Hoyeck, was acquitted Friday in Nova Scotia Supreme Court after Justice James Chipman found Kempton made a series of choices that contributed to his own death. Chipman said the garage had a myriad of safety issues, but none of them led to the poor choices of Kempton, a trained mechanic. The van was being stripped before being scrapped, and Kempton was using an acetylene torch to remove the steel straps holding the gas tank in place. It ignited, with Kempton underneath.