A jury at Liverpool Crown Court has found a kayak company guilty of corporate manslaughter over the death of an employee in an oven.
Peter Mackereth, 60, managing director of Runcorn-based Pyranha Mouldings, was also found guilty of two further charges relating to breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
The firm was prosecuted after Alan Catterall died in an industrial oven he had been cleaning in December 2010.
The appliance had earlier been shut down after it developed a fault with a guide rail bearing.
Burned to death in oven
After the maintenance work was carried out, a fellow worker – who was engaged to Mr Catterall’s daughter – put the oven into warm-up mode without realising the 54-year-old father-of-three was still inside.
It was only when smoke started to come from the oven a few minutes later that operators realised something was wrong.
They opened the door and found Mr Catterall’s body inside the oven. Tragically, he was declared dead at the scene.
Detective Inspector Gary Smith, who worked on the investigation, described Mr Catterall’s death as a tragedy, adding that he had worked at the company for many years and “sadly ended up losing his life” in the workplace.
Mr Smith said Mr Catterall’s family had “suffered greatly over the years”, and the events leading up to and including the trial were extremely difficult for them.
Man ‘missed desperately’
He expressed his hope that the manslaughter verdict will help to “bring about a degree of closure” for the family.
He said the investigation had been long and complicated, “spanning many years”, and involved “painstaking analysis” of witness statements and a range of other items.
Mr Smith added that the verdict at Liverpool Crown Court is the first time in Cheshire that the police have successfully prosecuted a firm for corporate manslaughter under new rules.
Mr Catterall’s family welcomed the verdict but added that it does not bring Alan back, and they added that they “miss him desperately”. They said that he has missed his son’s wedding and the birth of his new grandson and “will not see his two daughters marry”.
Making a work injury claim
While tragic events like this are rare, you may have been injured at work yourself at some point – and even if you may not have considered the accident to be your employer’s fault, it could be.
If you have suffered a work injury in the last three years and you think it may not be your fault, then you could be eligible to make a work injury claim, and we at Accident Advice Helpline will do our utmost to look into your claim. Call us free on 0800 689 0500 or 0333 500 0993 from a mobile phone for free, no obligation legal advice.