Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Michael Whinfrey death: Sterecycle Rotherham faces manslaughter charge

A recycling company is to be charged with corporate manslaughter over an explosion which killed an employee.

Michael Whinfrey was fatally injured in the blast at Sterecycle on Sheffield Road, Rotherham, on 11 January 2011.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said Sterecycle (Rotherham) Limited would be charged at a Rotherham Magistrates' Court hearing on 14 October.

Three men will also be charged with health and safety breaches.

Michael Whinfrey
Michael Whinfrey was a "much-valued" colleague, his boss said

Father-of-three Michael Winfrey, 42, from Wickersley, was airlifted to Leeds General Infirmary after the explosion but died later that day.

The company's chief executive at the time, Tom Shields, described him as "a fine man" and one of the firm's longest-serving employees.

His friend and co-worker Peter Davis, from Barnsley, was seriously injured in the blast but survived.

Jane Wragg, from the special crime and counter-terrorism division of the CPS, said: "I have carefully reviewed the evidence gathered by South Yorkshire Police and the Health and Safety Executive during their investigation into the tragic death of Michael Whinfrey.

"I have concluded that Sterecycle (Rotherham) Limited should be charged with an offence of corporate manslaughter."

She added that three senior members of staff from the recycling plant would be charged under Section 7 of the Health and Safety at Work Act, and one also faced a charge of perverting the course of justice.

The plant, which used to treat up to 130,000 tonnes of waste a year, closed last year.

The company is currently in creditors' voluntary liquidation. as it said it experienced a "significant downturn in trading" after the explosion.

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