Norfolk

Baldwin Skip Hire boss jailed after employee suffocates

James Criddle Image copyright Norfolk Police
Image caption James Criddle was working for Baldwin Skip Hire when his clothes caught in machinery

A man has been jailed for a year after one of his employees suffocated when his clothes became caught in machinery.

Father-of-one James Criddle, 29, was operating a screener machine at Baldwin Skip Hire in Besthorpe, Norfolk, in May 2017 when he became entangled.

The machine was bought second hand by defendant Robert Baldwin, 48, with no safety guards or external stop button.

Norwich Crown Court found Baldwin guilty of neglect in failing to discharge a duty.

Baldwin was cleared of gross negligence manslaughter in connection with the death during the trial in March.

His company, Baldwin Skip Hire, pleaded guilty to another health and safety charge of an employer breaching a general duty to an employee and was fined £75,000.

Image copyright Family of Mr Criddle
Image caption Holly Eagling, Mr Criddle's partner and mother of their young daughter Lexi, said he was "the love of my life"

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

Julia Faure Walker, prosecuting, said: "It was bought second-hand on eBay... The guards had been removed. The workers were not protected from the dangerous working parts."

Matthew Gowen, representing Baldwin, said his client was vital to the business and had hired a firm to improve health and safety at work.

However, Judge Alice Robinson told Baldwin he had bought the machine for £17,000 rather than buying a new one for £50,000 as "a case of cost-cutting at the expense of safety", when he could see it was in a "poor condition".

Image caption The machine had been delivered to Baldwin Skip Hire five days earlier

Holly Eagling, Mr Criddle's partner and mother of their young daughter, said he was "the love of my life, the kindest and most generous person".

"I am still grieving each and every day... It is clear this should not have happened, that corners were cut, so money was saved," she told the court.

"I can never forgive," she added.

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