Worker suffocated when clothes got caught in machine bought on eBay, court hears

PUBLISHED: 15:51 11 March 2019 | UPDATED: 09:46 12 March 2019

James Criddle, who died in an industrial incident in Besthorpe. Picture courtesy of Kevin Copplestone.

James Criddle, who died in an industrial incident in Besthorpe. Picture courtesy of Kevin Copplestone.

Kevin Copplestone

A businessman is on trial for manslaughter after a 29-year-old skip hire firm worker suffocated when his clothing became caught in a machine bought for £18,000 on eBay, a court heard.

James Criddle, from Watton, was working at Baldwin Skip Hire on May 15, 2017, when the accident happened involving waste-screening machinery, which had only just been bought for £18,000 on eBay, but was not fitted with the required safety guard, Norwich Crown Court heard.

Robert Baldwin, 47, of Silver Street, Besthorpe, has pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter of Mr Criddle by gross negligence and a charge involving neglect in failing to discharge a duty.

Julia Faure Walker, prosecuting, told the jury that as managing director of the company, Baldwin failed in his duty of care towards Mr Criddle and was “grossly” negligent.

She said the machinery used by Mr Criddle had safety guards removed, which would have protected anyone operating the machine from moving parts.

She said: ”The machinery was not in the same condition as it had been when it went on the market some years before. A guard had been removed.”

She said when buying the equipment, Baldwin would have inspected the machinery and should have seen there were dangerous moving parts exposed.

Ms Faure Walker said there were also holes cut in the machinery and said: “No one is going to suggest the previous owners are wholly without blame.”

However she said Baldwin should have seen the obvious dangers but still brought the equipment on site for use by Mr Criddle.

She said that moments before the fatal accident Mr Criddle, who had worked on and off for the firm since 2013, had taken a photo on his mobile phone.

Ms Faure Walker said there might have been some blockage on the machine, but said that it would appear that Mr Criddle’s clothing became caught up in the machinery and he had become trapped and suffocated.

Ms Faure Walker said following an investigation Baldwin handed in a statement which said that it had not been obvious to him that the equipment was unsafe.

She told the jury that the company, Baldwin Skip Hire, had already pleaded guilty to a charge of breaching health and safety duties to an employee.

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