Company fined over electrocution which killed Manningtree man Bradley Watts

Bradley Watts, 21, from Manningtree, who was killed in an industrial accident

Bradley Watts, 21, from Manningtree, who was killed in an industrial accident - Credit: Archant

A fresh produce company has been fined £170,000 after a Manningtree sub-contractor was killed when he came into contact with a live mains cable.

Bradley Watts, 21, was lagging pipes installed as part of a heating and cooling refit in the loft of a property in Natures Way Foods in Chichester in June 2011 when he came into contact with the live wire carrying 240 volts of electricity.

He was pronounced dead at the scene by the ambulance crew.

Chichester Crown Court heard that the cable was part of an old system that had been removed in 2008 but was not identified in any way and its existence and live nature was unknown to Natures Way Foods.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive concluded that Natures Way Foods had plenty of opportunity to deal with redundant cables but it was always assumed they were not live.

Had the old cabling been removed in a systematic and controlled manner, or subsequent checks of the loft space identified the examples of poor practice, the death of Mr Watts could have been avoided.

The company, of Selsey, West Sussex, pleaded guilty to breaching two sections of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

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It was fined £170,000 by the court and ordered to pay costs of £35,403.

Mr Watts, a former pupil of Dedham Primary and Manningtree High schools, was working for his uncle in the family business and due to help take up the reins after his grandfather retired.

A jury at an inquest last September ruled his death, caused by electrocution, was accidental.

His mother, Mandy Watts, said she was disappointed it had taken so long for the case to be brought to court.

Ms Watts, 45, said: “This does not help to bring closure.

“We never knew what had happened for nearly three years until the inquest, and not knowing the truth was as painful as the loss of Bradley.

“We know it takes time, but the post-mortem examination was held a month after his death so why has it taken this long? No-one has told us.

“The fine seems heavy by Health and Safety Executive standards, but is a drop in the ocean compared to what the company’s turnover is – and what value do you put on a life?

“Bradley was the only grandson to the family and he was very much family orientated. He was well liked.

“He was a brother to Ellie, and like a brother to his cousins Christie and Crystal, with only a year between them all.

“We are a very small and close family.

“The family has been shattered by the death. We will never move on.

“We have to learn to carry on or else go to pieces.”

Last night, a statement from Natures Way Foods said: “Our primary concern has always been for the family of Bradley Watts. Our thoughts continue to be with Bradley’s family during what has been a very difficult time for them.

“We deeply regret the incident that occurred in June 2011. We will continue to regularly review all our policies and procedures to ensure that we do everything in our power to take all reasonable precautions to minimise the risk of such an incident occurring again.”