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June 19, 2015

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Farm manager convicted of manslaughter of two workers

A farm manager has been convicted of the manslaughter of two workers who died after being sent into a storage tank while holding their breath.

Andrew Stocker, who was boss of the fruit farm at Tory peer Lord Selborne’s Hampshire estate, had encouraged the workers to enter the nitrogen-filled apple container, where the oxygen level was 1%, in a practice nicknamed “scuba diving”.

The approved and safe method of using a metal hook to retrieve the apples was not deemed ‘adequate’ by Mr Stocker, as the fruit needed to be a particular size for an agricultural competition.

Scott Cain, 23, and Ashley Clarke, 24, were found unconscious on top of apple crates at the Blackmoor estate on 18 February 2013. Efforts to revive them were unsuccessful.

Stocker, 57, of The Links, Whitehill, Bordon, Hampshire, had denied manslaughter, but admitted exposing the men to a risk of death.

Sentencing will take place on 1 July.

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Mark Forbes
Mark Forbes
9 years ago

I find it beyond comprehension that in 2015 anybody would find these practices acceptable. This kind of tragic story belongs in the pages of a Dickensian novel. I know that there are still people out there who feel that victims like this should have demonstrated more self awareness and more “common sense”. However, it’s a sad fact that workers coming under pressure from seniors will often overrule their own instincts and proper practice, this is why the duty must fall heavily upon employers. Two completely avoidable deaths for a handful of apples.

Joe Booth
Joe Booth
9 years ago

Agreed Mark, and they were probably only being paid peanuts for their efforts. What I find equily astounding is that the manager had pleaded not guilty!! Makes you wonder what the stae of the rest of the farm operation is in?!

Yvonne Aldridge
Yvonne Aldridge
9 years ago

The I.M.O spend a lot of time making mariners aware of the hazards of enclosed spaces with stringent regulations on permits and entry requirements with an ultimate “responsible person”. This Manager (and I use the term loosely) knowingly sent those men to their deaths, having even given the practice a knickname of scuba-diving!!! Would Mr Stocker dive to the bottom of an ocean without breathing apparatus?

Vince Butler
Vince Butler
9 years ago

These killer practices at the worksite are likely to be more common than we imagine – and will get worse regretably!
David Cameron – The Daily Mail and generally the mainstream media and most politicians have created the situation where this type of thing will be completely acceptable and if the worker refuses, they will be dismissed (but alive!) with zero employment rights, zero compensation, zero employment tribunal or legal representation – really – that is where we are headed!
Thats what 24% of UK citizens voted for and what 100% have to look forward to.

steve paul
steve paul
9 years ago

i find it stupid and beyond belief that the two individuals actually went in there. Where is personal responsibility, like standing up and saying ” no chance mate im not doing that”. Things will never change as long as people act like sheep

Mark Forbes
Mark Forbes
9 years ago
Reply to  steve paul

I’m sorry Steve, but that’s very disingenuous and very disrepectful to two grieving families. You can’t know what the circumstances were for these two men. Were they under extreme pressure to carry out the task? Did they even appreciate the level of risk they were facing? Thankfully the judicial process disagrees with your own opinion. Things will never change as long as employers act like Victorian mill owners.