A man was burned to death after climbing inside an industrial oven to make some repairs; his future son-in-law unwittingly switched the machine on and locked him inside.
Alan Catterall of Runcorn, Cheshire, had climbed into the oven to fix a fault. The oven bakes plastic at up to 280 degrees and is used to make kayaks.
Mark Francis, not realizing Catterall was still working in the oven, switched the machine on and locked him in.
A jury heard that Francis was engaged to Catterall’s oldest daughter.
As heard at Liverpool Crown Court, there was no alarm to signify that Catterall was trapped in the oven; the 54-year-old man tried to escape by using a crowbar. But, because of the noisy work environment, no one heard his cries for help.
Colleagues at Pyranha Mouldings Ltd only discovered the problem “when smoke started seeping out of the oven.” Catterall died after suffering severe burns and shock.
Now, Pyranha is on trial after being charged with corporate manslaughter. The directors and a self-employed engineer are facing charges related to health and safety breaches.
Prosecutor Andrew Thomas, QC, described the circumstances of Catterall’s death as “quite horrific.”
“The design of the oven was such that the moment it was switched on its power-operated doors shut and automatically locked with metal bolts on the outside,” Thomas said.
“The evidence indicates that Mr. Catterall made efforts to escape using a metal crow bar, but it was to no avail,” Thomas continued.
Catterall had worked in Pyranha since 1997, where he had been promoted to the position of team leader. His wife, Pearl, and daughter also worked for the company.
The company's managing director, the technical director and the self-employed electrical engineer who designed the ovens all deny health and safety breaches.