Baldwin Skip Hire owner cleared of manslaughter

  • Published
James CriddleImage source, Norfolk Police
Image caption,
James Criddle was working for Baldwin Skip Hire in Besthorpe when his clothes became caught in machinery

A skip hire firm owner has been cleared of gross negligence manslaughter following a worker's death.

James Criddle, 29, was operating a screener machine at Baldwin Skip Hire in Besthorpe, Norfolk, in May 2017 when he became entangled in it and died.

The machine was bought by defendant Robert Baldwin, 48, on eBay and had no safety guards or external stop button.

However, Mr Baldwin was found guilty at Norwich Crown Court of neglect in failing to discharge a duty.

The company, Baldwin Skip Hire Limited, had already pleaded guilty to another health and safety charge of an employer breaching a general duty to an employee.

The court heard that a screener, which included a cylindrical drum to sort material of different sizes, was delivered to the skip hire site five days before Mr Criddle's death on 15 May.

Image caption,
Baldwin Skip Hire's managing director Robert Baldwin, 47, denied manslaughter due to gross negligence

Julia Faure-Walker, prosecuting, said: "It was bought second-hand on eBay and not in the condition it would have gone to market.

"The guards had been removed. The workers were not protected from the dangerous working parts."

She added that when Mr Baldwin was interviewed by police he said the lack of guarding on the machinery was "not obvious" when he bought it.

After Mr Criddle's death, a health and safety inspector found the machine had been placed on rubble and uneven ground, and there was no stop button on the outside of the machine.

The HSE report concluded the accident could have been prevented if safety measures had been in place.

Judge Alice Robinson, at Norwich Crown Court, said Mr Criddle had not been given formal safety training.

She said Mr Baldwin, of Silver Street, Besthorpe, was said to have difficulty understanding technical documents and had employed an external consultant to help provide safety advice to staff following a health and safety inspection in April 2017.

He will be sentenced next month.

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