Trial begins over fatal 2015 explosion at Bosley mill

The trial of a director and two mill managers of Wood Treatment Ltd began at Chester Nightingale Court yesterday (26 January).

Four people died following the explosion in 2015, with one body never recovered

Company director George Boden, 64, of Stockport, has denied four counts of gross negligence manslaughter in relation to an explosion in 2015 at the Bosley wood flour mill near Macclesfield, which left four people dead (see letsrecycle.com story).

Williams Barks, aged 51, from Cheddleton; Derek Moore, aged 62, from Goldenhill; Dorothy Bailey, aged 62, from Bosley; and Jason Shingler, aged 38, from Congleton, were all killed in the disaster at the mill, which made wood chip products.

The court heard how Mr Shingler’s body was never recovered.

Two mill managers, Philip Smith, aged 58, of Macclesfield, and 56-year-old Peter Shingler, of Bosley, have also pleaded not guilty to an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

The company, Wood Treatment Limited, is also charged with four offences of Corporate Manslaughter.

Counts one to four are the same charge except for the identity of the deceased in each count.

Wood Treatment Limited is also charged with a Health and Safety Breach.

The company has pleaded guilty to that charge and accepts that it failed to discharge that duty but denies that it did so in such a way as to cause the deaths and injuries of its employees.

Trial

The trial, expected to last for 12 weeks, began yesterday at approximately 11:10, where the jury was brought into court and explained their duties.

The day was largely taken by the prosecution explaining its case.

“The prosecution case is that each arose from negligence on the part of the company and the health and safety director”

Prosecutor Tony Badenoch

Prosecutor Tony Badenoch QC said “In short summary, a large explosion caused substantial damage to the mill and the deaths of the four persons named. The only credible cause for which is that there had been a massive explosion of wood dust – a highly flammable and explosable material.

“The most likely scenario is … an explosion in previously settled dust leading to a much larger secondary explosion. Whichever of those credible scenarios it is, the prosecution case is that each arose from negligence on the part of the company and the Health and Safety Director (George Boden).”

He added that it took many days for the fire to be suppressed and bodies to be recovered.

Mr Badenoch also said the Health and Safety Executive has published an Information Sheet about wood waste, which he said states “You should assume that all wood waste is potentially explosive, unless a dust explosion test demonstrates it is not”.

“Wood Treatment Limited and George Boden were told, in terms, that dust creates an explosive atmosphere,” he added.

The case was adjourned at 16:44 and will continue at 10:30 today.

[Report via Cheshire Life]

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