A truck company has been fined more than $100,000 after a worker died when the vehicle's brakes failed and it went over an Auckland cliff.

Jane Lee Devonshire, 19, died on Hebe Place, Birkenhead when she was crushed as the rubbish truck she was working on crashed.

It was just her fifth week on the job working as a runner on the Sterling truck, operated by Onyx Group Limited.

An investigation found that the brakes failed, causing the truck to roll off the road.

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Truck Leasing Ltd (TLL), which owned the vehicle, was charged under the Health and Safety in Employment Act with failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the truck was maintained so it was safe for its intended use.

Jane Devonshire's family, cousins Angela Pooley and Steven Pooley, father Philip Devonshire, sister Maria Devonshire, and Lorraine Johnson at the scene of the crash. Photo / Greg Bowker
Jane Devonshire's family, cousins Angela Pooley and Steven Pooley, father Philip Devonshire, sister Maria Devonshire, and Lorraine Johnson at the scene of the crash. Photo / Greg Bowker

The company entered a not guilty plea and argued Devonshire's death could not be directly attributed to TLL, further arguing the driver was to a certain degree culpable.

The case went to trial in the Auckland District Court, but Judge Robert Ronayne found the company guilty.

Judge Ronayne sentenced TLL today and fined it $110,000, he also ordered it to pay some $36,000 in reparation to the Devonshire family and $11,000 in emotional harm to the driver.

Jane Devonshire, 19, was a popular teen with a love for animals. Photo / Supplied
Jane Devonshire, 19, was a popular teen with a love for animals. Photo / Supplied

The court heard that TLL was responsible for the upkeep of its vehicle fleet, and had previously been involved in two other crashes - one fatal.

Services on TLL's fleet had been missed while the company was aware of faulty brakes on its vehicles, Judge Ronayne concluded.

He said the Sterling trucks in TLL's fleet were "inherently unsuitable for rubbish collection" and "obviously worn out", adding the company was aware of this.

An investigation found that the truck's brakes had failed. Photo / Greg Bowker
An investigation found that the truck's brakes had failed. Photo / Greg Bowker

A warning light in the crashed truck had also been removed from the dashboard, the court heard.

Judge Ronayne said the experienced driver, who had expressed his concerns about the truck's unfit state but was ignored, did all he could to avoid the crash.

"Nothing the driver did could have averted tragedy," the judge said.

Judge Ronayne said TLL failed to ensure that the brakes were safe and legally compliant; that its agreed servicing timeframes were not met; that the company focused on reactive repairs and was overly cost conscious; that it failed to ensure staff safety with adequate maintenance; and that it failed to repair the truck to an appropriate standard.

TLL took "deliberate risks, perhaps in the hope its lease on the vehicles would expire without incident", the judge said.

He added TLL's lack of care for its fleet was over a considerable period of time and was profit driven.

TLL argued that its culpability shouldn't be viewed as the same as Onyx Group Limited or its maintenance company, N P Dobbe (NPD), which it described as the "lead offenders".

Both companies were also charged and fined in relation to the crash.

Devonshire's devastated family earlier told the Herald that the accident should never have happened.

Her father, Philip Devonshire, said his daughter was a fun-loving, outgoing person.

She was also a popular teen with a love for animals and had overseas travel plans.

"Anyone who met her absolutely loved her. She was like an angel on earth," Devonshire's cousin Angela Pooley said.

The court heard today that Devonshire's death has left a gaping void in their lives.

The front of a truck which went off a cliff after its brakes failed. Photo / Greg Bowker
The front of a truck which went off a cliff after its brakes failed. Photo / Greg Bowker

Auckland Council was fined in October last year over Devonshire's death.

The council pleaded guilty to also failing to take all practicable steps to ensure that no employee of a contractor was harmed while carrying out their work.

It was fined $33,000 and ordered to pay 15 per cent of the overall $120,000 in reparation to Devonshire's family.

Onyx Group Limited (now Veolia Environmental Services Limited) and NPD were fined $65,000 and $22,000 and ordered to pay 35 per cent and 25 per cent of the reparation.

The driver of the vehicle also received $25,236 in reparation.

Rona Topia lost her daughter in a rubbish truck accident in 2015. Today the Auckland Council and contractors have been ordered to pay $255,000 in fines and reparations