Jury discharged without reaching verdict on gross negligence manslaughter charge against Deco-Pak's managing director

A jury has been discharged this afternoon after it was unable to reach a verdict in the trial of a managing director accused of manslaughter by gross negligence following the death of worker at a Calderdale firm.

By Court Reporter
Wednesday, 19th January 2022, 4:04 pm
Updated Wednesday, 19th January 2022, 4:04 pm

Last Friday Hipperholme company Deco-Pak Limited was found guilty of corporate manslaughter over the death ofmaintenance engineer Andrew Tibbott who was crushed by a robotic arm less than six weeks after he started working at the garden landscaping supplies firm.

The jury resumed their lengthy deliberations today, but after a total of more than 21 hours considering the evidence they were discharged from returning a verdict in the case of managing director Michael Hall.

The Recorder of Bradford Judge Richard Mansell QC was told that prosecution were requesting two weeks in which they would consider whether Hall should face a retrial on the manslaughter by gross negligence allegation which he denies.

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Hipperholme firm Deco-Pak Limited guilty of corporate manslaughter over death of...

Hall, 64, of Hullen Edge Lane, Elland, had already pleaded guilty to breaching Health and Safety Regulations - a charge that was also admitted by the company before the trial began.

A jury heard back in November at the start of the complex trial how married father-of-two Mr Tibbott had been one of the last employees working at the Deco-Pak Limited premises on Good Friday 2017 when he was fatally injured by the machine.

Bradford Crown Court heard that the injured 48-year-old was only discovered when concerned family members went to the site on Halifax Road later that evening after he failed to return home.

Prosecutor Allan Compton QC said Mr Tibbott was found by his son, but despite paramedics arriving on scene he died from crush injuries to his chest.

Mr Tibbott had entered the “cell” around the robotic arm to clean a sensor, but Mr Compton alleged that “within days” of the installation in April 2015 of the fully automated line for bagging up products such as stone, slate the company and senior management had caused essential safety features to be bypassed or disabled.

Mr Compton alleged that repeated warnings about the dangers had been ignored and Mr Tibbott's death had been “wholly avoidable” and was the result of systematic failure.

The court heard that the robotic arm could move at seven metres per second and Mr Compton described it as a powerful and dangerous piece of machinery.

Last Friday another of the firm’s directors Rodney Slater, 62, of Wellbank View, Rochdale, was found not guilty on the manslaughter by gross negligence allegation and not guilty on the health and safety breach offence.

No further hearing dates were fixed today, but it is expected that the case will be mentioned before Judge Mansell again in about two weeks time.

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