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Halifax garage owner acquitted in death of mechanic burned when van caught fire

HALIFAX — The former owner of a Halifax autobody shop has been acquitted of criminal negligence causing the death of a mechanic who was badly burned when a van 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 Nova Scotia mine.

Peter Kempton was working under a Dodge Caravan at Your Mechanic Auto Corner in September 2013 when it became engulfed in flames.

The 58-year-old suffered second- and third-degree burns over 90 per cent of his body and died the next day in hospital.

His boss, shop owner Elie Phillip Hoyeck, was acquitted Friday in Nova Scotia Supreme Court after Justice James Chipman found that 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. 

Bill C-45 was passed in March 2004, establishing new legal duties for workplace health and safety and imposing tougher penalties for violations that result in injuries or death.

The Canadian Press