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Man tried to cut away clothing of colleague trapped in machinery

PUBLISHED: 15:35 12 March 2019 | UPDATED: 15:35 12 March 2019

Robert Baldwin, Norwich Crown Court. PICTURE: Archant

Robert Baldwin, Norwich Crown Court. PICTURE: Archant

Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk

A driver made a desperate attempt to cut away clothing worn by a worker who was trapped in machinery at a Norfolk firm, a court heard.

James Criddle, who died in an industrial incident in Besthorpe. Picture courtesy of Kevin Copplestone.James Criddle, who died in an industrial incident in Besthorpe. Picture courtesy of Kevin Copplestone.

Giving evidence at Norwich Crown Court on Tuesday (March 12) Gediminas Savickas, an former excavator driver at Baldwin Skip Hire, Besthorpe, said he had seen James Criddle on the day he died.

Mr Criddle, 29, from Watton, was working on May 15, 2017, when the fatal accident happened, involving waste-screening machinery which had only just been bought for £18,000 on eBay but was not fitted with a safety guard.

Robert Baldwin, 47, of Silver Street, Besthorpe, has pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter of Mr Criddle by gross negligence and a charge involving neglect in failing to discharge a duty.

Mr Savickas told prosecutor Julia Faure Walker that Mr Criddle had earlier come and asked him for “a shovel or a spade”.

He did not say what he wanted it for but Mr Savickas said he did not have one.

The jury of nine women and three men heard that after lunch he became aware of some shouting.

The witness, who joined the company in May 2017 but no longer works there, told the court he saw Mr Criddle’s body by the machine with a shovel there.

He said he could not pull the shovel out so he “pushed it into the machine”.

He told the court how he got a knife out of Mr Criddle’s pocket to try and cut away his clothing but could not because it was “really tight”.

In cross examination the witness was asked by Mathew Gowen, defending, about general safety on site. He asked him what he would do if there was something on site that he knew was unsafe or had seen an issue with.

He replied that he would report it.

Earlier in the day Marius Gazauskas, a digger driver, said he had not been to safety meetings at the site.

The court has heard the prosecution assert that, as managing director of the company, Baldwin failed in his duty of care towards Mr Criddle and was “grossly” negligent.

The jury has been told Baldwin Skip Hire has already pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety duties to an employee.

The trial continues.

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