Sussex

Blast death pair banner at Lewes bonfire condemned

  • 20 November 2010
  • From the section Sussex
Nathan and Martin Winter
Image caption Nathan Winter and his father Martin were jailed for manslaughter in 2009

The family of a father and son jailed for manslaughter over the deaths of two Sussex firefighters have been condemned for parading a protest banner.

The banner, showing a picture of Martin and Nathan Winter and claiming a miscarriage of justice, was on view during the Lewes bonfire night event.

Geoff Wicker and Brian Wembridge died in a fireworks factory fire in 2006.

Colleagues, friends and relatives of the two firemen have condemned the banner as tasteless and insensitive.

Mr Wicker, 49, and Mr Wembridge, 63, both long-serving members of East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, were killed at Marlie Farm, in Shortgate, in December 2006 when a metal container used to house unlicensed fireworks exploded.

Martin Winter, 52, of Festival Fireworks UK Ltd, was jailed for seven years, last year. His son Nathan, 25, received a five-year term, which was later reduced to four years on appeal.

Both were convicted of manslaughter by gross negligence.

'Bad taste'

John Winter, who chairs one of Lewes's bonfire societies, said his brother and nephew had been jailed for something they had not done.

As well as the banner, a tableau with a judge and two goats, meant to imply the Winters were scapegoats, was also on display during the Lewes bonfire events.

Image caption Geoff Wicker (L) and Brian Wembridge died in the explosion

Mr Winter said: "Why should I sit back and forget about them?

"If it was anybody else's family put away for something they hadn't done, I think other people would be doing the same thing."

However, Roger Bradgate, a retired firefighter and friend of the two who died, said Mr Winter's actions had been "thoroughly in bad taste".

"There was absolutely no miscarriage of justice whatsoever," said Mr Bradgate.

"It's about time that those involved - that family - accepted the justice, and showed some remorse"

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