BBC News

Cooker deaths: Action 'could have prevented fatalities'

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image copyrightFamily Handout
image captionKevin Branton, left, and Richard Smith died at a property in Saltash in 2010

A coroner has been urged to conclude five people who died after using gas cookers that emitted high levels of carbon monoxide were unlawfully killed.

An inquest into the deaths in Cornwall in 2010 and 2013 heard they had all been using cookers made by Beko's Turkish parent company Arcelik.

The cookers have been linked to 13 other deaths in the UK and Ireland.

Lawyers representing the families argued failings and delays by Beko amounted to corporate manslaughter.

Beko urged the coroner to conclude the deaths had been accidental.

Kevin Branton, 32, and Richard Smith, 30, died in 2010 in Saltash, while Audrey Cook 86, John Cook, 90, and their daughter Maureen, 47, died in 2013 in Camborne.

Rob Harland, representing the families, said Beko knew all "they needed to know" by 2 December 2008 to take "rapid action including products in the supply chain being stopped".

He said: "This is a situation where time is of the essence."

image copyrightBBC news grab
image captionThe cooker that led to the deaths of Mr Smith and Mr Branton was bought on 31 December 2008

Mr Harland said there were two crucial dates in respect of Mr Smith and Mr Branton's deaths - 31 December 2008, when their cooker was bought and March 2009, when the records of the purchase were destroyed.

He said there was an "obvious possibility" of their deaths being prevented if Beko had acted sooner.

Mr Harland also said there had been "systemic failings" in the way the public framework around product safety operated.

He said this included bodies such as trading standards, the Health and Safety Executive and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR), and meant the risk the cookers posed was not picked up.

"We say the state ought to have known sooner," he said.

Representatives for Hertfordshire Trading Standards, product testing company Intertek and BERR denied there were failings and also submitted the proper conclusion was of accidental death.

Ben Compton, for Beko, said there was "some delay" in imparting information between November 2008 and January 2009 but the company opposed a conclusion of unlawful killing.

He added there was no evidence earlier action could have prevented the sale of Mr Smith and Mr Branton's cooker.

The inquest continues.

Related Topics

  • Saltash
  • Camborne

More on this story

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