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Manager is convicted after apple packers die.

THE manager of a fruit packing operation has been found guilty of the manslaughter of two workers who died after he asked them to "scuba dive" in an apple storage unit.

Andrew Stocker, 57, of Whitehill, Bordon, Hampshire, was convicted at Winchester Crown Court over the deaths at the Blackmoor Estate in Liss, by ignoring health and safety regulations through encouraging staff to use the "dangerous" procedure.

Scott Cain, 23, who was engaged to be married to the mother of his child, and Ashley Clarke, 24, were both found unconscious on top of crates of apples in February 2013. Both died at the scene.

Mark Dennis QC, prosecuting, said that Stocker, who was on holiday at the time of the incident, had instructed Mr Cain to gather the sample fruit while he was away to be entered in a fruit show.

He said Stocker encouraged the practice nicknamed "scuba diving" which involved staff entering the storage units through a hatch holding their breath while they ducked inside for fruit samples.

The air in the sealed units had oxygen levels reduced to 1% for the preservation of the fruit.

Mr Justice Akenhead adjourned the case against Stocker and Blackmoor Estate Ltd for sentence on July 1.

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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 20, 2015
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