Father bled to death after severing his ankle in recycling machine, court hears 


Father-of-three bled to death after severing his ankle when he was trapped alone in cardboard baling machine at recycling plant, court hears

  • Norman Butler, 60, had only worked at the plant for a month before his death
  • A court heard the Recycle Cymru plant in North Wales had serious safety faults
  • The court was told employees would stamp on the machine to clear blockages
  • His boss Stephen Jones, 60, has been accused of manslaughter over the death

A father-of-three was killed in a horrific accident at a recycling plant just a month after starting his new job, a court heard.

Norman Butler, 60, bled to death when his ankle was severed after he fell into a cardboard recycling machine.

Company director Stephen Jones, 60, is accused of his manslaughter by gross negligence. 

The trial heard safety at the plant was ‘shockingly bad’.

Mr Butler – described as a ‘loving grandfather’ – had worked at the Recycle Cymru plant for just a month when he was killed after his leg became trapped in the machinery.

The family of Norman Butler, 60, who was killed in the incident, called him their 'hero' and 'the most loving and caring family man'

The family of Norman Butler, 60, who was killed in the incident, called him their ‘hero’ and ‘the most loving and caring family man’

Prosecutor Craig Hassall said Mr Butler’s left foot had been severed while he was using the baling machine alone.

Mr Hassell said: ‘He would have been trapped with no one to rescue him.’

The court heard Mr Butler loaded waste cardboard from a van onto a conveyor belt.

The cardboard should have gone down a chute and into a hydraulic machine and crushed, but blockages in the machine meant staff would walk up the conveyor belt to unblock it – often by stamping on top of the cardboard.

CCTV footage showed Mr Butler walking up the conveyor belt, and he may have slipped or fallen into the hopper.

Stephen Jones, 60, denies manslaughter due to gross negligence. The trial at Caernarfon in North Wales is expected to last around two weeks

Stephen Jones, 60, denies manslaughter due to gross negligence. The trial at Caernarfon in North Wales is expected to last around two weeks

Witness Paul King arrived later and noticed blood leaking from the baling machine.

He said: ‘I opened the side door of the chute. Mr Butler was trapped inside.. I realised he was dead.’

Mr Hassall listed a catalogue of alleged safety failings – and said Jones didn’t even have the 78-page safety manual for the machine.

He said: ‘The factory floor was chaotic and cluttered and safety was ‘shockingly bad.’

The court heard boss Stephen Jones lied to a health and safety executive inspector who arrived to do a spot check a day before the fatal incident.

Jones claimed he was the only person at the company to operate its baling and sorting machine, the court heard. 

The company director, from Rhos-on-Sea in North Wales, appeared Caernarfon Crown Court over the death at nearby Kinmel Bay in November 2017.

The court heard safety at the Recycle Cymru plant (pictured) was 'shockingly bad', with a lack of systems in place to protect employees using the bailing machine for crushing cardboard

The court heard safety at the Recycle Cymru plant (pictured) was ‘shockingly bad’, with a lack of systems in place to protect employees using the bailing machine for crushing cardboard

Jones is personally accused of manslaughter and an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Mr Butler was earlier described as the ‘most loving and caring family man’.

His children, remembered their ‘hero’ and the ‘rock of the family’ who ‘adored’ them and his six grandchildren.

The siblings said: ‘Our dad was the most loving and caring man who would do anything to help anyone, especially his family.

‘His life revolved around his children and grandchildren and he did everything he could with them.

‘He was a family man like no other and gave his all for us, no matter what time of night or day.

‘He had only been working as a van driver/bailing operative at Recycle Cymru for a month when he died.’

Jones denies the manslaughter by unlawfully killing Norman Butler due to gross negligence in that as managing director he owed him a duty of care as an employee.

He is also accused of failing to ensure that he was adequately trained to operate the baler, there were safety systems and that employees did not climb the conveyor belt to clear blockages, that falling into the baler was guarded against, and that Mr Butler did not work alone.

The prosecution claim these breaches of his duty of care were ‘substantially’ the cause of Mr Butler’s death.

A pathologist gave the cause of death as massive blood loss due to amputation of his left foot.

Jones and Recycle Cymru Ltd deny the offences. The trial is due to go on for two weeks.

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