Businessman accused of killing staff who got trapped in tire-shedding machine sobs as heartbreaking emergency call played in court
GLOUCESTERSHIRE, UK: A businessman sobbed in court as the jury heard the harrowing 999 call made by one of his employees while attempting to save the life of a man trapped in a tire-shredding machine. When Martin Simmons became trapped in the newly installed tire-shredding machine on February 20, 2019, Kyle Gettings, a director of the now-liquidated Capital Metals Ltd, was trading there at the New Dunn Business Park in Sling. Gettings, 35, is accused of unlawfully killing his employee by negligence.
The workers were instructed by emergency services to cut Simmons free from the apparatus and administer CPR when it appeared that he was no longer breathing. Although Simmons was taken to the hospital immediately, the main artery in his neck was crushed, resulting in severe brain damage. On March 6, 2019, Simmons died from his wounds in spite of medical attention. Just a few days before he passed away, his fiancée Tina Simmons married him in his hospital bed. In March 2019, Tina donned her wedding gown for an emotional ceremony that took place just before her husband's life support was turned off.
According to Daily Mail, defendant Gettings and the jury members appeared visibly upset as the judge halted proceedings at Gloucester Crown Court after the incident's recording was played. Gettings denies intentionally killing Simmons. He admitted that he had failed to make sure that his workers were safe and healthy while using the equipment.
'Machinery didn't have any guard rail protection'
According to prosecutor Philip Stott, Simmons was loading tires onto the conveyor belt on February 20, 2019, and watching as they were being shredded as they exited the machine onto the second conveyor. The prosecutor said, "Machinery didn't have any guard rail protection on the second conveyor belt. This is neglect as anybody could easily become trapped within its workings. There was no process to stop this from happening while the machinery was running."
'Film captured no safety guards'
The jury was informed that a television crew for the 'Scrap Kings' series had been filming the tire-shredding operation the day prior to the incident. They were shown video footage of the employees' actions when the machinery became jammed. The machine and conveyor belt were used without any safety guards in the film. It was claimed that despite having been trained to do so by Gettings, staff members failed to turn off the machine the following day when unclogging the jammed conveyor belt. Jack Major, who was working with Simmons at the time of the incident, testified in front of the jury. He claimed that he was instructed to make sure that the equipment was turned off before retrieving the debris.
'It is common sense not to put your hands anywhere near it while it was operational'
Major stated, "I had to pick large shredded items off the floor all the time and place them on the conveyor belt myself, which didn't have any safety guards on it. I did this because they would quickly become a trip hazard." He added, "The hopper would frequently jam up and the unit would be turned off to allow us to free up the jammed equipment. It is common sense not to put your hands anywhere near it while it was operational."
'I ran outside and shouted for somebody to dial 999'
Major also claimed that it was not his responsibility to turn the machinery on or off. But at around 4.00 pm he saw Simmons working on the conveyor belt, without it being turned off, while he was undertaking another task with his back to him. Describing the tragic incident, he said, "I turned around when he shouted out loudly 'Ouch'. He was kneeling down and was in an unnatural position with his shoulder being trapped and his right arm inside the machinery. Simmons' neck was sticking out from under the machine. I immediately pressed the emergency stop button, which disables everything in the unit. I ran outside and shouted for somebody to dial 999."
'GM began the CPR procedure on Simmons'
General manager Gary King told the jury that he heard Major shouting for somebody to ring 999. He explained how he ran to the spot to save Simmons. "I ran the distance of about half a football pitch to get to the unit where I saw Simmons on his knees with his arm trapped between a pulley and the conveyor belt. He didn't say anything. At first I was told by the call handler to make sure Simmons was as comfortable as possible and wait for the paramedics to arrive. But when Simmons stopped breathing the decision was taken to free him from the equipment." He added, "Once he was flat on the floor, I began the CPR procedure on Simmons. I followed the exact directions the call handler was telling me. I continued this procedure until the paramedics took over."
'Electrician confirms no safety measures'
Additionally, the electricians who installed the equipment as well as other employees who discussed their roles immediately following the incident testified before the jury. Electrician Nicholas Barrow said that he visited on the day of the incident as he had found a replacement circuit breaker for the equipment the company had recently installed. He stated, "I noticed that the second conveyor belt, which had not been part of the setup when the machine was being commissioned, did not have any safety measures on it. I was surprised that the machine was being used without guard rails. It was too noisy to talk to anybody about my concerns and I left after 15 minutes."
Health and Safety Executive visited the site
Michael Raynor from the Health and Safety Executive visited the site 6 days after the incident and told the jury that a chute from the shredder leading to the second conveyor belt would frequently become blocked because of an improperly set up hopper, which required workers to clear. Tire fragments would also cause the conveyor belt to become clogged. It should have been standard procedure to completely turn off the machine while performing these tasks, he said.