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Norfolk man to be sentenced after death of worker caught in machinery

PUBLISHED: 09:59 17 May 2019 | UPDATED: 14:17 17 May 2019

Robert Baldwin, Norwich Crown Court. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Robert Baldwin, Norwich Crown Court. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk

A businessman is to be sentenced today after he was convicted following the death of a skip hire firm worker who was suffocated when his clothing became caught in machinery.

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.

James Criddle, 29, from Watton, was working at Baldwin Skip Hire in Besthorpe on May 15, 2017, when an accident happened involving waste-screening machinery which had been bought for £18,000 on eBay, but was not fitted with safety guards, Norwich Crown Court was told.

Robert Baldwin, 47, of Silver Street, Besthorpe, had pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter of Mr Criddle by gross negligence.

In March a jury took three-and-a-quarter hours to find Baldwin not guilty of manslaughter.

He was however found guilty of a charge of consenting or conniving in the commission of an offence or neglect to which that offence was attributable.

The offence applies to an individual, as Baldwin Skip Hire has already pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety duties to an employee in a separate charge.

Baldwin appeared to fight back tears as the verdicts were announced.

Sentencing was adjourned so a pre-sentence report could be carried out.

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But Baldwin was warned by Judge Alice Robinson that the fact she had ordered a pre-sentence report "should not be taken as any indication Mr Baldwin will not be given a sentence of immediate custody".

During the trial, which started last week, the jury had heard how Gediminas Savickas, a former excavator driver at Baldwin

Skip Hire, had made a desperate effort to free Mr Criddle on the day he died after he became trapped in a screener machine.

He told the court how he got a knife out of Mr Criddle's pocket to try and cut away his clothing but could not because it was "really tight".

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector said it was

likely Mr Criddle was "trying to unblock the machine with a shovel".

The machine was not fitted with safety guards but should have been, the inspector said.

He said the site of the accident posed a "serious risk of entanglement".

Following Mr Criddle's death, friends said he was a kind, loving man, who cared for his girlfriend Holly Eagling, and young daughter, Lexi.

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